Officials Split on Creating More Police Management Positions

Chief Ryan’s request for an amendment to the fiscal 2010 budget, which would allow the Elkton Police Department to exchange field positions for two management positions, had official split on the proposal at the July 22 meeting. “I would like to give back the position that was allocated for a police officer in 2010 and the current sergeant’s position . . . and add a position upgrade for an executive officer and a new lieutenant’s position in place of a sergeant,” the chief informed the board. For the management and future direction of the police department, this would assure better operational efficiency and span of control, he noted.

Two members of the board questioned the value of the staffing proposal. “You’re loading up the top of the organization . . . . I’d like to see more foot-patrols because crime is getting terrible,” Commissioner Storke remarked. “I agree with Gary. We need more foot-patrols, more officers out on the street, rather than putting more in the station,” Mayor Fisona emphasized.

As the discussion continued, the chief emphasized that it provides the accountability he needs to efficiently manage the department and build it for the future. “Why can’t you get the accountability now without going to this step?” the mayor queried. “I can’t put a sergeant in charge of sergeants. It has to have a different rank,” the police executive noted.

“This is the first time a budget amendment has come before us here because . . . If it’s within a budget we just vote on it,” Commissioner Jablonski remarked. “But we’re actually adding a position,” Storke replied. “It’s an increase in the upper echelon. How many lieutenants are there now?” Three was the reply.

Commissioner Piner observed that he relies on the department heads to know what their needs are. “We as official listen to the request and I know it’s a new position but it’s a needed position as far as I’m concerned.” “ I’m sure we need more foot-patrols, but we just can’t put them on the street, as the chief said. I’m all for it. I don’t have a problem with it.”  Commissioner Jablonski said she too was “fine with the reorganization.”

When the mayor polled Commissioner Givens, he remarked that he’d heard the chief’s proposal and the pros and cons of the discussion and he would now think it over and make his vote at the right time. “That’s all I’m going to say. I will not make a rash decision?”

As the conversation wrapped up, the mayor polled the board to see if the proposal would be presented at a regular meeting for a formal vote. Two members of the board favored more patrols, two were okay with the chief’s proposal, and one said he would weigh the evidence and vote at the right time. In a final remark, Commissioner Piner wondered about where the evidence was showing that foot-patrols are effective at stopping crime. “You’re more visible, but I don’t’ see where the difference is with the officer’s getting calls from dispatch.” Storke commented, all we’re saying is, “Do we need a lieutenant versus two officers out in cars.”  The formal vote on the chief’s request will probably occur at the next regular board meeting.

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4 responses to “Officials Split on Creating More Police Management Positions

  1. It just doesn’t make sense to take two policemen off the streets. What are the commissioners thinking? How can they be in favor of that. You wonder how much they get around town because they’d surely see what’s going on if they were watching.

    I was at the county planning meeting the other evening and some man stood up in front of that big crowd and talked about how bad things are downtown. He said that in the 15 years he’s lived here, he’s watched downtown Elkton die and he’s watched the crime increase downtown. He talked about specific examples of the problem downtown. He’s right. We need policemen out on the road and not in the police station. We might need more policemen and I wouldn’t have any problem with that, but I do have a problem with cutting back on the number on the street.

  2. Cathy:

    Thanks for posting your thoughts on the allocation of law enforcement resources in town. Commissioner Jablonski, the downton Main Street Manager, and Commissioner Piner were firmly in favor of the reallocation of the staffing positions, changing them for field allotments to managerial assignments. That surprised me too, especially since Commissioner Jablonksi is the Main Street Manager, who has a one of her responsibilities, being the voice for the downtown business community. I’ve got to believe if you polled the actual downtown businesspeople, they would want an officer around.

    Commissioner Piner got into a discussion about how foot patrols don’t aid in crime reduction, too. I think the stats on that would be interesting for a police presence will create a safer, patron friendly environment downtown, in the mall or in the communities. Commissioner Storke commented on his reaction to that. It also gets into a discussion about budget allocations, but the reality is that it is, as the chief staffing, “giving back” 2 field allotments for two police exectuives so I don’t get the budget argument.

    My position on this would be that I want my personnel in the field. I might also do everything I could to get additional allocations for the managerial positions in the budget, but until that happened I push to retain as many in the patrol division as possible. I’m sure that given the workload the force is in need of extra personnel. I caught in the discussion that the chief had requested 6 additional positions, but those were apparently elmininated.

    finally when I heard the chief mention how many he heard in the patrol division, I was surprised. I’m absolutely sure that is an overworked division, probably just running from call to call, and in need of more allocations from the town. But that’ll be a budget issue and until it’s resovled I wouldn’t cut back on patrol. It’s slim now.

    Also thanks for letting us know about the comments at the county meeting. I was there too and heard those. The gentlemen was not someone I knew and he’s not a regular in the town meetings or the downtown area, so it was interesting to hear a fresh perspective on how things are going. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, that’s the common perception you get around the county as you talk to people.

  3. Joe are you watchin this?

  4. Watchin Joe:

    He is watching this. In this instance, there was an unusual alignment. The mayor usually votes with Commissioners Jablonski and Piner, especially on downtown matters. But in this instance he sided with Commissioner Storke (that rarely happens) and questioned the logic of removing a budget allocation for two patrol positions and replacing them with two executives. Commissioner Jablonski and Piner indicated that they depended on department heads to recommend what needs to be done and thus they supported the chief’s recommendation for a Lt. and an administrator.

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