Millage History and Philosophy
The driving mission of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office is to co-create community wellness and safety. We believe safe communities are a byproduct of well communities. And we believe that wellness happens one individual at a time when police, mental health providers, and community-based organizations work together to respond to emergency calls.
Over the last several years, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has received significant funds from the voter-approved Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage to uphold and enhance both mental health and public safety. We have used these funds to invest in community wellness and safety through:
Diversion. Diversion strategies are designed for individuals who come into formal contact with the criminal justice system and have underlying social needs, including mental health and substance use conditions. When possible, these individuals are redirected to community care, based on the understanding that if their social and behavioral needs are addressed, they will no longer engage in delinquent behavior.
Deflection. Deflection programs are designed to work before a person is booked with a criminal charge. In place of criminal punishment, deflection programs offer support and resources to individuals, such as mental health or substance abuse treatment, counseling, education, and more. These programs seek to reduce the likelihood of criminality.
Reentry. Across the nation, recidivism rates are highest among individuals with mental health and substance use disorders because jails can’t effectively address the root issues–including mental health and substance use disorders–that contribute to criminal behavior. With millage funds, the Sheriff’s Office’s reentry team helps people establish a detailed and thoughtful reentry plan as they get closer to their release date and helps them access and navigate employment and supportive services after their release.
Interventions. With millage funds, WCSO staff and partners design and implement interventions that touch individuals with one or more risk factors, such as significant trauma or mental illness, and give them proactive support and resources. Victims of shootings, mothers of youngsters with criminal justice involvement, and others receive trauma-informed services.
Police services. Each township and city within Washtenaw County is required to provide emergency police response. In navigating this responsibility, local authorities can develop their own emergency response systems (a costly route), contract with the Michigan State Police Department, or contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. When municipalities choose to contract with the Sheriff’s Office, the millage underwrites a portion of the cost, freeing county general funds to support other community services.
911 dispatch. Washtenaw County’s 911 dispatch system is pivotal to community response. With millage funds, a revamped dispatch system and updated technological infrastructure ensures a swift and accurate response to emergency calls. It also makes it easier for the police to coordinate in real time with emergency medical services, community mental health crisis services, and others to respond appropriately to the needs of callers.
Equipment and technology modernization. Effectively co-creating community wellness and safety requires a well-equipped and efficient police services agency. Millage dollars fund police services staff with cutting-edge tools and software to respond to and investigate crime, enhance data analysis, and improve overall operational efficiency and accountability
Resources from Washtenaw County's Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage first became available in January of 2019 and will continue to be available until 2026. If the millage is renewed by voters, these funds and the programs and services they make possible will continue into the future.