After playing a major role in solving two crimes via the Internet, Wayland Police Officer Mark Riemersma has been given the green light to undergo training for a special task force.
The Wayland City Council Monday evening approved a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security that would reimburse the local officer at least partially for his off-duty work in crime solving on line.
Wayland Police Chief Mark Garnsey said modern crime has gotten much more expansive because of the Internet and federal agencies are looking for ways to enlist help from local officers through programs that would enable them to be involved as members of a special task force. The agreement wouldn’t cover all of Riemersma’s expenses and he would not be permitted to work on the special cases while on duty as a city policeman.
The program would allow up to $15,000 a year in compensation.
Riemersma has gained notice for helping capture a 50-year-old Pennsylvania man for making sexual advances oon a 12-year local boy. Riemersma four years ago also was cited in a national public safety publication for his relentless research role in apprehending a suspect in retail fraud. By using data and an index system for Allegan and Kent counties, he was able to identify a suspect on seven counts. The man afterward was incarcerated.
Garnsey said of his officer, “he is laser focused” on his Internet research and sleuthing.
The vote to allow Riemersma to proceed was 6-1, with Mayor Tim Bala dissenting, saying, “There are too many unknowns. I think we’re moving too fast.”
The mayor also said he is concerned about the possibilities of being legally liable.
City Manager Josh Eggleston agreed, saying, “My biggest fear is that we might overextend ourselves.”
In other business Monday evening, the council:
- Had the first reading on a proposed ordinance to amend zoning at 1065 133rd Ave. from I-1 industrial to R-M residential. The Planning Commission last week voted to recommend the request from developer John Scholten.
- Welcomed student representative Riley Slocum.
- Was told by Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Antel that the Rails to Trails Committee for the Interurban between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids has decided to take a step back to focus more on fund-raising.
- Learned from Eggleston that a State Boundary Commission meeting on proposed annexation of a dozen Hopkins Township properties into the city will be held Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Hopkins Elementary.
- Was told by City Clerk Lee Ann Clausen that she sent out 269 mail-in ballots for next month’s city election and 138 thus far have been returned. All three incumbents, Rick Mathis, Jennifer Antel and Tracy Bivins are running unopposed.