The Terre du Lac (TDL) community is facing the loss of insurance on its police department Sept. 1 and is in talks to merge or combine in some way with the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department.
Duane Patt, TDL Property Owners Association Board president, said he is hoping to work with St. Francois County to establish a partnership with the sheriff’s department to continue the service as a satellite office, however he notes that he does not yet have all the facts and "nothing is set in stone." Patt explained that TDL still wishes to fund a department of some type in cooperation with the county.
“I want to make this very, very clear,” he said. “We do not need a bailout, TDL is not looking for a handout, this is 100% wanting our police department, and we are willing pay whatever it costs to do so. We take a lot of pride in our police department. We have six officers out here, we have nice cars.”
Patt stressed that he wants to keep law enforcement in Terre du Lac as close as possible to the current configuration.
“We had 2,300 calls out here last year,” he said. “Those 2,300 calls, Sheriff Bullock would have had to send deputies to those calls with the same amount of deputies he has. …You take the police force out of that, you’re going to put a lot of extra stress on the deputies.”
Sheriff Dan Bullock explained that some of the board members had come to him with the problem on their insurance.
“…We discussed what some of the options might be to keep them from losing their police department,” he said. “We’re waiting for our attorney, Travis Elliott, to get back with us on how that can and may work, then we will make a decision on what we want to do. We are just looking at different options right now. They still have police protection, and it doesn’t cost the county any money.”
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher is starting on the process of determining what can be done about the situation.
“We have several questions,” he said. “First of all, the reason they want to do it, as presented to me, is that they will lose their insurance coverage of their police department as of Sept. 1. We have one month to have a decision and act on it, if we decide to do this.
“There are a lot of questions. First, what is their insurability, can we add them to our policy? Second, there are six officers and vehicles that are involved. Do we add them to our payroll — and it’s not budgeted, how do we work that? Do we provide funding for that out of their budget? There will be a difference between the payscale systems, how does that work? The benefit program, if they were brought in, would have to be added to it.”
Gallaher said that currently new questions come up every minute about the situation. One positive thing Gallaher mentioned is that the TDL officers are commissioned sheriff’s deputies, so they are already qualified to join the sheriff’s department.
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org