MARQUETTE - With the total number of police officers on the decline in the state of Michigan, information provided to The Mining Journal by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards showed Marquette County was bucking the trend, only dropping by two officers from 2003 to 2011.
However, local police officials are contesting those figures.
"The problem we apparently have is there's a miscommunication between our agencies and MCOLES as to what the accurate numbers are and that's something we're going to be working to correct," Marquette City Police Department Chief Mike Angeli said.
MCOLES Executive Director David Harvey said his agency was "only as good as what the (local) agencies report to us."
According to Angeli, the total number of police officers employed at all eight local police agencies in Marquette County - which does not include the Michigan State Police - fell by 13 from 2003 to 2011.
Angeli said it's possible the numbers could have been skewed by an increase in officers at Northern Michigan University's Public Safety and Police Services Department, which now has a contract with Marquette General Hospital to provide security.
"They've added several positions - five according to their numbers - to accommodate that contract," Angeli said. "That, in our minds, isn't necessarily reflecting an increase of law enforcement in the county. It certainly demonstrates an increase at the hospital ... but they don't really respond to countywide complaints."
Angeli said the decline in officers was not affecting all eight local police agencies the same way.
"It's certainly affecting some departments more than others," Angeli said. "Ishpeming (City) Police Department has a net loss of four officers ... Negaunee has a net loss of three. The Marquette County Sheriff's Office reported a net loss of nine,"he said. "When you look at it from that direction, or that angle, it certainly demonstrates the individual departments have had to make cuts because of budget concerns ... We're in the same situation that the rest of the state is in in regards to law enforcement. We're not set (a part) or doing better by some unknown ability."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.