With the narrow defeat of a police service millage in Ypsilanti Township, sheriff Jerry Clayton has to figure out how to patrol the county’s -second-largest community with ten fewer deputies–and also what to do with the deputies the township can no longer afford.

The township has already cut its contracted police force from forty-four deputies to thirty-eight. Now, says supervisor Brenda Stumbo, it “will be reducing our police force by [another] ten officers in January.”

Clayton says, “Trying to provide police service to Ypsilanti Township with fewer deputies really, really concerns me. If we reduce staff, all we’ll be able to do is respond to calls for service, and it could slow down response time.”

For the deputies, “the worst-case scenario is layoffs,” says Clayton. “It’s the last thing I want, and it’s my responsibility to not let that happen.” So far this year, the new sheriff’s cut nearly $1 million from his budget without laying anyone off, mainly by controlling overtime. Now, Clayton says, he’s going “to work with the townships, the county board, and my staff to find other revenue options.

“I’m optimistic we’ll find a way to keep them [the Ypsi Township deputies] on the payroll,” predicts Clayton. “There’ll be general fund [supported] deputies assigned wher-ever they need to be throughout the county.” And county administrator Bob Guenzel notes that “we’ll be opening a new wing of the jail, if any of them are interested in correctional work.” But that’s a ways off: Clayton doesn’t expect to need more correctional officers for at least a year, until renovations are completed.

There is one bright spot: Clayton reports the county board has offered to extend the current police service contracts with the townships with very small rate increases–2 percent next year and 4 percent in 2011. Most townships have already accepted the offer.