STANTON — Montcalm County was awarded a $170,000 grant from the state of Michigan for first responder training and recruitment.
The grant was announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as part of $5 million worth of grants going to more than 60 Michigan communities as part of the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program.
“Michigan’s first responders put their lives on the line to keep us all safe and we must have their backs,” Whitmer said in a press release. “Today’s grants will help more than 60 communities across Michigan train and recruit first responders. And in my budget for next fiscal year, I’ve proposed additional funds to help communities hire and train even more first responders including firefighters, police officers, paramedics and EMTs. Let’s keep working together to keep Michiganders safe.”
Montcalm County’s grant was applied for by Undersheriff Andy Doezema and Emergency Medical Services Director Eric Smith in a joint effort.
First responders include police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and local unit of government corrections officers. The grant program supports efforts of local governments to expand recruitment, improve training, and provide additional professional development and support to first responders in local governments.
Doezema told that Daily News that Montcalm County’s proposal to the state was as follows: train six EMTs to become paramedics; send four newly hired corrections officers to the Corrections Academy; train seven sheriff’s dive team members and upgrade dive equipment; train four sheriff’s deputies in tactical encounters; provide training equipment to the patrol and corrections in-house defensive tactics training program; train three patrol and corrections officers in de-escalation, intervention and force mitigation; and hire and send two pre-service sheriff’s deputy recruits to the Police Academy. The state has not yet provided the levels of funding for each of these proposed projects to Montcalm County.
“This grant will accelerate our efforts to fill vacancies in EMS, corrections and sheriff’s patrol,” Doezema said. “Like many employers, we have struggled recently to attract enough quality candidates to fill our sheriff’s deputy vacancies. In the past we required sheriff’s deputy applicants to graduate from police academy before we hired them. This grant will allow us to tap the pool of candidates who haven’t attended police academy yet. When the voters approved the sheriff’s patrol millage (in March 2020), they told us that they value seeing deputies out on patrol. This grant will help us staff the road patrol with well trained deputies.
“We are also excited to provide advanced training to our current employees,” Doezema said. “Advanced training in specialized areas improves job satisfaction and increases the level of service we provide. These opportunities for career advancement help with job satisfaction and retention. Specialized training advances our mission to provide the best level of service while acting as good stewards of public resources.
“Grants like this relieve local taxpayers of the cost of government services,” he said. “Although the county’s financial position has improved dramatically over the last few years, we continue to seek grant opportunities that will allow us to provide the best quality public safety services at the lowest cost to county residents. As stewards of local resources, it is our duty to spend wisely and seek out all available forms of revenue.”
“Our grant was to be able to train and hire road patrol deputies and to train current EMTs to become paramedics,” Smith told the Daily News. “So the benefit to the county will eventually be more deputies and more paramedics serving the county. This is another success case of county departments working together to maximize the benefit for all.”
Applications were selected for funding by the Michigan Department of Treasury based on program purpose, eligibility and criteria. Projects are funded on a reimbursement basis.
To learn more about the First Responder Training and Recruitment Grant Program, visit Michigan.gov/FRG.