Police to add deputy chief position this fall

A patrol officer position will be eliminated to create the post.

Chief Matt Haney will get a little help with the day-to-day operations of the Bainbridge Police Department with the council’s approval Monday of a new deputy chief position.

“It’s important to have someone more available when I’m not, to focus on the basic operations,” Haney told the council during discussions of the 2007 city budget Monday. “One problem is that if I don’t stay after 5 o’clock, there’s no supervisor on duty.”

Haney also underscored the demands placed on his job, which will be partially alleviated by the new deputy chief.

Apart from overseeing general police operations, the chief must stay current with all court and legislative changes, ensure procedural changes are implemented, revise documents, investigate citizen complaints against department supervisors, administer complaints against officers and attend regular city and community meetings.

The new deputy chief will plan and direct patrols and staffing levels, investigate complaints, evaluate employee performances, monitor crime trends and ensure compliance with state and federal rules.

Current police staffing levels will remain the same, with one officer position converted to the deputy chief assignment.

Some councilors were concerned that one less general officer would mean reduced traffic patrols. Councilman Bob Scales suggested Haney move a police lieutenant into the deputy chief role.

But such a move, Haney said, would constitute a demotion, as the deputy chief is a non-union position.

“Yes, traffic functions will not be handled (by the deputy chief),” he said. “Is the deputy chief more important than one traffic position or a school resource (officer) position? My answer is yes, it’s the deputy chief.”

Other councilors sought higher qualifications for the position, which requires an associate’s but not a bachelor’s degree.

But Councilman Jim Llewellyn asked the council to defer to Haney in establishing qualifications for his staff.

“I think the chief and the administration have a firmer grasp of the qualifications than a council member might,” he said.

City Attorney Paul McMurray said a bachelor’s degree is not a common requirement for police staff.

“Every police captain I’ve worked with....not a single one has had a four-year degree,” he said.

McMurray also cautioned the city that boosting requirements may dissuade many qualified candidates who can easily find jobs elsewhere.

“It’s a supply and demand issue,” he said. “It’s very difficult to fill (police) posititions. I’d be careful not to put too high of conditions with these types of positions.”

Councilwoman Debbie Vancil dropped her request for a four-year degree, but gained the council’s approval amending the job description to state a bachelor’s degree is “preferred” over an associate’s degree.

The council on Monday also formally agreed with Haney’s decision to split one officer position between a half-time parking control monitor and a half-time evidence technician.

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