Benzie County Commissioners Discuss Adding a TNT Officer

A northern Michigan county dealing with more drug crimes and overdoses discussed ways to address the problem Tuesday.

The Benzie County Sheriff would like to add a Traverse Narcotics Team officer but the county has to find a way to fund the position to counter the increasing drug problem.

The sheriff says they’re investigating a death that could be the county’s fourth prescription drug overdose death already this year, last year they had three such deaths all year.

“At the last commission meeting, I brought up the fact that I need another position specifically for TNT and there seemed to be a lot of public input in regards to that,” said Sheriff Schendel.

More officers to deal with drugs, it appeals to many in Benzie county, but someone has to pay for it.

One idea is a millage that would cost the average homeowner about 10 dollars if voters approved.

“Personally, I’d rather see the position come from general fund rather than millage because anytime you talk about a millage it’s a tax,” said Sheriff Schendel.

Although, he knows this position would be great for the community.

“Because of what we had in the past and the amounts of arrests that were made, it will never solve the problem but what it does is it keeps us focused on all the players in the area,” said Sheriff Schendel.

With the drug problem increasing, the EMS director thinks a TNT officer would be a huge help to reduce the number of serious drug situations.

“We transported approximately 160 overdoses last year out of benzie county and anything that would help to reduce that number would greatly help the county,” said Craig Johnson, EMS director for Benzie County.

Tonight the county commissioners decided there isn’t money in the budget for the officer right now and they want the public to vote on the position first.