Traverse City will once again soon have a full-time Michigan State Police post, with the state’s Fourteenth Street facility set to reopen to the public and have full-time assigned troopers return after more than a decade.
The Traverse City MSP post was one of the dozens of locations across the state targeted for closures and reductions in 2011 as part of a cost-cutting effort under Governor Rick Snyder. At the time, MSP said it was adopting a policing model that would rely less on brick-and-mortar locations and more on technology that would allow troopers to work remotely or from home. Traverse City and Petoskey’s posts were closed and incorporated into a new area anchored by the Cadillac post.
Since then, MSP has continued to own the Fourteenth Street building in Traverse City and used it as a detachment where troopers can file paperwork, start and end shifts, and hold appointments. But now, officials are preparing to reopen the facility – a move targeted for early in the new year – with a new post commander, desk sergeant, and assigned troopers that will allow the post to return to a full-time MSP location. That includes opening the post’s doors to the public again for walk-in assistance.
“As with any business or agency, what was working in 2011 has changed,” says Spl/Lt. Derrick Carroll, public information officer for MSP’s seventh district in the northern lower peninsula. “We saw a need for this to be reopened in Traverse City. Traverse City has seen hundreds of thousands of tourists come in. With that population, the necessity for more law enforcement was seen here, and we answered that call.”
Under MSP’s reorganization, Carroll says the Traverse City post will now serve Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Benzie counties. “We have a new post commander, First Lieutenant Stephen Porter, and we are assigning troopers to the post,” he says. Following union negotiations, sergeants and troopers from the Cadillac post have been allowed to apply to transfer to Traverse City, with many already living in the Grand Traverse and Leelanau areas. “Once all the troopers are assigned, and the sergeant is in place, we will be opening the doors sometime early in the year,” Carroll says.
According to Carroll, the move isn’t expected to come at a significant cost increase to MSP. “It’s not anything extraordinary out of the budget,” he says. “We own the facility, which will have some adjustments to reopen, but the big thing we’re working on is they’ll now have their report system for the new TC post.” Outside of that, according to Carroll, “we’re merely relocating our resources and assignments to this building.”
MSP’s reopening comes as welcome news to other local public safety agencies. Unlike city or county law enforcement, state troopers aren’t bound by jurisdictional lines – the entire state is MSP’s jurisdiction. That allows MSP troopers to cross boundaries if a crime crosses multiple jurisdictions and assists as the backup to multiple local agencies.
“The state police have always been a resource to help communities when they need help,” says Traverse City Fire Department Chief Jim Tuller. “I know at times if Benzie or Leelanau are short-handed, or if multiple emergencies are happening at once, MSP will help. We work with them on major events like the Cherry Festival and the Bayshore. They’ve been part of the local planning team for many years, but now that they’re here again in our backyard, I can see it getting even better in terms of training and working together.”
Tuller and Carroll also note MSP maintains specialty divisions and technology it provides to local agencies lacking those resources in-house. That includes helicopters, drones, underwater recovery teams, crime labs, and crash investigators. Tuller points to an MSP fire investigator who lives locally and will be based out of the TC post and assists TCFD with complex fire investigations. “I can see it happening more where we'll be able to bring him in,” says Tuller. “If we need to determine whether or not an accelerant was used, MSP has an accelerant canine we can use. Whenever we need them, they’re here at no charge. They want to be used, so they’re happy to help.”
Carroll reiterates that statement, saying one of the primary benefits of the TC post-reopening is having dedicated personnel stationed in the area who can assist other agencies. “There’s a shortage of officers nationwide, so we rely heavily on each other for backup,” he says. “We bring with us a lot of specialized skills. We’re willing to make whatever (local agencies) request of us, and they help us as well.”