PONTIAC (WWJ) – It’s official. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is set to take over policing in the city of Pontiac.  Oakland County commissioners Thursday approved a contract between the city of Pontiac and the Sheriff’s Department.

However, a proposal by Democrats to involve residents and local elected officials in the process was rejected by Republicans on a virtually straight party vote.

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The proposal, that city officials said will save $2 million annually, failed to pass in December when Democrats held a majority. Republicans currently hold the majority.

The $10.2 million contract calls for 74 deputies to serve the city of about 66,000 people. Pontiac currently has 51 officers after 23 layoff notices were handed out late last year. Police Chief Val Gross previously said an alternative plan he had devised to avoid the takeover included wage cuts and a tax increase.

The takeover is supposed to take effect March 1st. However, a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Michigan Association of Police to prevent the contract from going into effect.

In a release to the media, Commissioner Tim Greimel, a Democrat, outlined the rejected amendments to the contract:

– Allow the city’s elected officials to express concerns about the conduct of individual deputies while still allowing the Sheriff’s Department the final say on personnel decisions.

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– Allow the city’s elected officials to meet and interview prospective command staff before they are assigned to the community while still allowing the Sheriff’s Office the final say on assignments.

– Allow the city’s elected officials to be included in meetings between the EFM and the Sheriff’s Office and be copied on all communications between the EFM and the Sheriff.

– Require that City Council approve the contract before it becomes effective.

– Create a Citizens Law Enforcement Advisory Committee of Pontiac residents to review any complaints about police conduct and make non-binding recommendations to address concerns.

– Require Pontiac to make all payments owed to its laid-off police officers before the sheriff’s contract becomes effective.

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Greimel said the amendments were designed “to find some common ground and ensure that residents are comfortable with the presence of the Sheriff’s Department.”