City leaders this week backed a plan to help maintain public services while alleviating some of the workload on an understaffed Police Department – all at an expected cost savings to Bishop taxpayers.
Chief Chris Carter earned approval Monday from the City Council to create a new Police Service Technician position out of an existing dispatcher vacancy.
According to Carter, the Police Service Technician will be able to perform certain types of police work that does not, by law, have to be carried out by a sworn officer – thus lightening the workload and overtime costs among a portion of the department operating with three vacancies as it is.
The latest vacancy – an entry-level sworn officer position – was created in December, further reducing the police force to its existing 11 sworn officers, including the chief and lieutenant posts.
A sergeant’s position has been vacant for almost two years, and another entry-level officer post for almost eight, Carter said.
He explained it was the loss of the last “street-level” officer in December that really spurred a closer look at the PD’s organizational structure.
“We have these vacancies, yes, but we still have services we need to provide and responsibilities and duties to carry out,” Carter said. “We knew we had to fill a position, there was no doubt about it.”
The Police Service Technician position was one Carter, a 30-year law enforcement veteran and member of the PD since 2003, had long seen a need for in Bishop and had “wanted to create for some time,” he said.
After the latest vacancy in December, Carter and other officers examined overtime, put their heads together and eventually came up with a list of tasks that could be carried out by a non-sworn officer.
These tasks, he said, include conducting traffic control during parades and other major events; taking non-criminal case counter reports or reports on non-injury vehicle accidents; and crime scene photography, and evidence recording and management.
In addition to the above assignments, the Police Service Technician will also fill in as a dispatcher as needed.
“This position will be helping to keep overtime down in Dispatch and helping to keep overtime down in the sworn-officer arena,” Carter said.
The new position will be filled internally, by one of the PD’s current dispatchers.
As part of his plan, Carter was also given the go-ahead to hire a part-time dispatcher to replace the employee being shifted into the newly created Police Service Technician.
The part-time dispatcher, he said, will be hired from a list of qualified applicants already compiled during a previous hiring period.
The job description for the Police Service Technician position makes it eligible for partial funding through Community-Oriented Police Services – or COPS – grant money from the state.
The grant funding, and anticipated reduction in overtime costs, could result in a cost savings to the City of Bishop’s General Fund of more than $80,000 in Fiscal Year 2012-13, Carter said.