September 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm

50 ideas to fix Michigan

Shift State Police road patrols to counties

This is the start of a daily series that offers ideas to reform Michigan.

Idea 1: Turn Michigan State Police road patrols over to county sheriff's deputies, dramatically downsizing the State Police and use it for specialized functions beyond the capacity of local law enforcement agencies.

Why: The cost of employing a state trooper is substantially greater than the average cost of sheriff's deputies, yet deputies can write traffic tickets and perform other routine law enforcement functions just as well. In addition, the State Police is reportedly overburdened with excessive layers of "command" and administration.

Benefit: This would save approximately $65 million annually, according to a 2003 Mackinac Center for Public Policy analysis. It would save more if adjusted for inflation.

How: Pass a law that contracts this activity to counties, downsizes the State Police and sells off many State Police facilities.

Obstacles: State troopers are represented by a powerful and influential union, and department representatives have not hesitated to use scare tactics to preserve the status of these government employees. Legislators fear energetic political opposition from troopers and their supporters. In addition, some communities "free ride" on the presence of nearby State Police posts, shifting the cost of law enforcement services from local taxpayers to statewide ones, and will exert political pressure on legislators to oppose the reform.

Source: Mackinac Center for Public Policy