Department Tightens Budget Belt

The Police Department is not immune from the budget crunch but we’ve found ways to tighten our belt, including filling certain positions with non-sworn officers - a.k.a. civilians.

It’s expensive to hire, train, and equip police officers and so by taking advantage of a few recent retirements and replacing them with the non-gun carrying type; we’ve been able to trim $64,000.

We’re saving $44K by replacing our property custodian and another $20K by hiring a civilian CSI Investigator – just like on TV.  By the way, did you know that most CSI investigators don’t carry guns or make arrest, including Las Vegas?  But I digress.

Civilianizing doesn’t work for most positions on the police department, but it does work for a few.  East Coast police departments tend to have police officers do everything from sorting records to storing evidence.  West Coast police departments tend to have police officers do things that only police officers can do and hire non-police employees to do the rest.

What difference does it make?  Gun-carrying police officers typically cost more, not only in salaries, but in training and equipment.  It takes about $100,000 to train and equip police officers to the point they can act independently.  The cost to keep them proficient and maintain core training is a couple thousand dollars a year and the cost to keep them equipped an additional $12,000 per year.

The down side is there is less room to maneuver for police officers wanting (or needing) a break from working the street.  The plus side; however, is most cops aren’t wired for sorting records and storing evidence.  Non-cops that have the desire and aptitude are usually better at it.  Case in point: As a captain, I took a run at the multitasking test we required of dispatch recruits.  Let’s just say, I wouldn’t have been considered an ideal candidate.

It makes sense to have police officers do the things they do best and leave other functions for the specialist.  My son, Jason, is a doctor specializing in Otolaryngology .  I’d trust him to do a stapedectomy on my inner ear, but I wouldn’t want him working on my car.  I won’t tell you about the time he ran it out of oil…