Police grappling with manpower issues
It also plans to discontinue its reserve officer program and its tactical support team, the latter charged with providing “interim response” while officers wait for a SWAT team to arrive.
Noble said the department tries to maintain a minimum of four officers on duty at all times, three patrol officers and a supervisor. But he said maintaining that level has become increasingly difficult, due to illnesses, injuries, vacations, training needs, comp time and such. As a result, he said, officers are frequently having to work overtime.
“As much as I am concerned with the cost of overtime, the bigger issue is fatigue and burnout, and an increased potential for mistakes and errors,” Noble told the council. “We cannot sustain these minimum levels with our current patrol resources, and need to reallocate more resources to patrol.”
Noble said that he and City Manager Kent Taylor are continuing talks on the issue, and hope to save at least some of the specialized positions by finding additional money for the department.
Meanwhile, the department is using federal grant money to fund development of a strategic plan for the next three to five years with the assistance of an outside consultant. The consultant plans to hold meetings with a “working group” drawn from the community to help guide the process.
In other business, the council:
n Approved an $81 million budget for fiscal 2013-14, declared the city eligible for state revenue sharing money and extended workers’ compensation coverage for volunteers.
n Awarded a contract for street resurfacing to low bidder Brix Paving Northwest Inc. for $483,500.
Most of the work, City Engineer Mike Bisset told the council, involves resurfacing of portions of Cowls, Lincoln, Davis and Ford streets torn up for sewer work last summer. He said work would also be done on Orchard Avenue, from McDaniel Lane to the railroad tracks, on Alpha Drive, from Orchard Avenue to Riverside Drive, and on Park Drive, adjacent to the Aquatic Center.
n Awarded a contract for slurry seal applications, to extend street life, to low bidder Asphalt Maintenance Associates Inc. for just under $67,000. Slurry seal will be applied to streets from Fellows to Old Sheridan Road, between Cozine Creek and Cypress Lane.