New sheriff takes office, brings change to Hillsdale County

HILLSDALE, Mich. (WLNS) — There’s a new sheriff in town. And that means big changes for a mid-Michigan community.

6 News sat down with the new sheriff to discuss what improvements we’ll see in the coming months.

Timothy Parker has been with the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office for over 30 years.

He could have retired, but decided it wasn’t time to hang up his hat just yet.

“I’ve raised my family here in Hillsdale County, and I have a commitment to this community,” Sheriff Parker said.

This former sheriff’s office lieutenant was voted into office in November.

He took over for Sheriff Stan Burchardt, who served for 20 years.

“Everyone who comes into these positions has ideas about how to improve things,” Sheriff Parker said.

The sheriff started with phones, making sure a human and not a robot was answering calls at the sheriff’s office.

He then shifted county jail visiting hours to weekends so it’s easier for families to visit inmates.

A video visitation system could also be installed soon.

One of the changes brings the sheriff’s office into the 21st century by reaching people on their smartphones.

A smartphone app is currently being developed for the sheriff’s office and should be available in the next couple months.

“We will be able to send push notifications to you. An example is the runaway child we had. There would be updates on search patterns or if we need assistance. We could use it for traffic accidents. If there’s a bad crash scene, we’d let the public know to avoid an area. We can provide vital statistics about what’s happening in our community,” Sheriff Parker said.

He’s also creating a special unit that would assist deputies with difficult cases, like death notifications.

“Introduce the people after we’ve delivered the message and they can step up and provide some critical care to families who are hurting,” Sheriff Parker said.

The sheriff says improving Hillsdale County can’t be done alone and he encourages people to help when they can.

“Most of our crimes that we solve are because somebody knows something; somebody saw something and tips were brought into us. And we need that kind of information,” Sheriff Parker said.

The sheriff says he also wants to work with closely with the community on safe teen driving, and stopping the heroin epidemic.

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