By Ryan S. Clark
STOCKBRIDGE -— Ingham County Sheriff’s Office deputies are providing 24-hour security at the Enbridge 6B easement project site in southern Ingham County where 40 protesters converged last week, prompting 11 arrests.
Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said one deputy started monitoring the site July 19, three days before the protest by members of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands. Another deputy was added Wednesday, two days after the protesters showed up at the site.
“The deal is there with the contractor that is putting the pipe in,” Wriggelsworth said “Enbridge is not doing this. (The construction contractor) hired two of our deputies at an overtime rate, onsite for 24 hours a day.”
Wriggelsworth said the county is receiving $54 per hour, per deputy, or more than $9,000 a week, from Precision Pipeline, the Eau Claire, Wisc.-based contractor. The deputies are working separate 12-hour shifts.
Wriggelsworth said the department has had similar arrangements with other companies or entities.
“Often we do it with utilities, (when) they will want to run a line across the freeway and they have to block off the road,” he said. “They pay us. We’ll also do it with moving companies and those types of things, and they are all private companies.”
Wriggelsworth said the contract will expire when “they think they are not threatened. It’s open-ended.”
Enbridge Inc. spokesman Jason Manshum and Precision Pipeline officials could not be reached for comment. Manshum said last week after the protest that the Canadian company would step up its security but declined to provide details.
Enbridge had a similar arrangement with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department in 2012 to protect portions of the 285-mile, $1.3 billion expansion pipeline project which runs from Griffith, Ind. to Marysville, Mich. The company paid $3,600 a week to have deputies onsite for limited daytime hours.
Wriggelsworth said although his deputies are at the Enbridge site they are still doing police work and are free to leave if an emergency arises. Ingham County currently has 13 deputies to cover rural parts of the county, he said.
Security has been a consistent problem for Enbridge. Eighteen people faced charges in late June after a six-day protest at an Enbridge pumping station in Westover, Ontario.
A member of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands group was arrested about a month ago for climbing inside a pipeline in Battle Creek and holding a one-man protest for about 10 hours.
MI CATS spokeswoman Chloe Gleichman said the group was “a little bit surprised” at the low level of security it saw the morning of the six-hour protest last week in Stockbridge.
“The first people I saw, and I’m not sure I saw everything, did appear to be Enbridge workers,” she said. “It looked like they were kind of entering the pump station across the street...they were probably calling the cops and the higher-ups. After they made the calls, the cops were there within 30 minutes.”
Paula Paschal, owner of Paschal Security Systems in Lansing, said a local law enforcement agency is better-equipped to secure a site such as Enbridge.
“In case things got out of control, it would be better to have law enforcement there already instead of calling them and they come after the fact,” she said.
Protest cost three agencies more than $6K
Nearly 25 officers from three law enforcement agencies responded to the July 22 protest. Removing the attached protesters required the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office to get assistance from the Michigan State Police and the Michigan State University Police Department.
Among the three agencies, it cost between $6,800 to $8,800, according to information obtained by the Lansing State Journal.
Major Joel Maatman of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office said at least a dozen deputies were “directly or indirectly” involved. Maatman said deputies were needed to drive prison transport vans for the mass arrests, along with the deputies who were initially on scene. He estimated it cost the department $3,000 to $5,000 in personnel costs.
He said the department seek restitution from MI CATS.
Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police, said in an email the department had at least 10 troopers at the scene. The agency spent about $3,500 in salary costs for their time there. Brown said the state police did not incur overtime costs and would not be seeking compensation.
Major Tony Kleibecker of the MSU Police Department said two of their officers were sent to extract protesters who were attached to the bulldozer. Kleibecker said it cost the department $183 in salary for both officers for roughly three hours of work.
“They are trained to do that,” said Kleibecker, who said the department did not incur overtime costs and that it would not seek reimbursement. “With the amount of civil disorder we’ve encountered, we have a couple people trained for these kind of events.”
News | July 30, 2013 | Page 1A, 2A
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