The city of Northwood plans to hire a patrol officer next year to beef up the police department staff.
The cost of providing an extra officer is included in the city’s 2012 budget.
Police Chief Tom Cairl had requested bringing back a laid off patrol officer, which will increase the number of patrol officers on the road to 14.
“I believe this is something that’s been overdue,” said Cairl at a council meeting this month.
The police department’s budget next year is one percent less than its budget this year, said Cairl.
He recently conducted a staffing study using current calls for service that showed the need for more patrols.
“That survey showed we need a staffing of 14 patrol officers working on the road. Currently, we have 13,” said Cairl.
The city in the last quarter showed a slight increase in crime, said Cairl, “but it’s not only us, it’s all around us.”
“It’s hitting all the communities. There’s a recession. Everyone’s seen an increase in some crimes throughout their communities,” he said. Additional officers will increase patrols in neighborhoods, he said, and provide “high visibility” as a deterrent to crime.
There will now be three sergeants and 11 patrolmen working on the road, he said.
“We’ll have more officers on the road, so therefore we will have more capabilities to respond in a timely fashion,” said Cairl.
He noted that police department staffing would still be down by three people because of budget and personnel cuts the city made in the last few years due to reduced revenue. He has been handling the duties of administrative secretary and was assuming the responsibilities of the captain’s position, which had been vacant. Cairl said he would need a part-time secretary and someone to handle duties of the Civil Service Commission. He said he has been trying to multi-task as much as possible and pointed out that he is a working officer. “There is only so much I can do,” he said.
He is called to accidents, he said, and he and the former captain were called to the last robbery in the city.
“I’m a working chief,” he said. “We are working officers in the police department.”
“You are right when those bank robbers were apprehended, it was you and the captain,” said Stoner.
“Here you have a department head,” Stoner said to council. “I’ve always heard you say that these guys are professionals and we are going to hear their recommendations. You do that until you disagree with them. I think you need to trust the department heads. I think if Tom says we need 14, then I think we should have 14.”
“Crime is up,” said Councilman Dave Gallaher. “We do have a responsibility to police, fire and the streets. Those are things we have to do. We do have to let the department heads run the department, but council has the responsibility of deciding job descriptions, employees, and their salaries. We cannot hire everyone back. Even though we’re doing better now and things are looking up, the revenue is not where it should be. I think council is trying to be as careful as they can.”
Recker cautioned council about future spending on personnel.
“It’s easy for us to feel a little bit of relief that the revenues this year are tracking along with 2010 or above,” he said. “But remember, at the beginning of the year, after the first or second quarter, revenues were 22 percent above 2010, then 15 percent above, then 14 percent above. The buffer between where we were in 2010, which by the way we all know was not a great year, is shrinking the further into the year we go. Be very cautious because we’ve seen layoffs. The worst thing we can do is overextend ourselves in personnel costs, then have to go back and retrace those steps. Our highest budget year with the highest revenue was 2007 and we’re nowhere near that.
Council later promoted Det. Sgt. Jeff Zahradnik to the captain’s position, which became vacant when former Captain Trent Schroder recently resigned to take a position in another city. A patrol officer is expected to be promoted to Zahradnik’s former position, which would leave the patrol officer’s position vacant, said Recker. That position will also be filled.
After the meeting, Recker said the part-time secretary position will not be filled.
“One of the issues that occurred when savings were made in 2009 and 2010 is that those secretarial duties would be picked up as much as possible by the chief and the captain. So those guys will pick up those additional duties, which is basically their own administrative work,” he said.