Nevada City police look to hire more officers
Nevada City is reinstating two police officer positions that were frozen at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to City Manager Catrina Olson, filling the positions would provide a net savings in the long term compared to the amount of overtime the police department has expended recently. The city has spent around $30,000 on overtime, and if the trend continues would cost the city about $85,000 this fiscal year, Olson said.
“Over the last several months, the police department has experienced a significant increase in the amount of police officers needed for things such as truck rallies, vigils and marches, and people in trees and things of that nature,” Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis said at a Wednesday council meeting. “It’s impacted the staffing levels that we have, which were already significantly down.”
According to Ellis, the department is down to nine officers, and would be fully staffed with 12 sworn officers.
Ellis said time is of the essence.
The council initially considered waiting on the positions until the completion of an after action report investigating the department’s response to an August counterprotest violence.
An Aug. 9 Black Lives Matter rally turned violent when counter-protesters intervened. Video shows counter-protesters apparently assaulting Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Prosecutors have charged three people in connection with the incident.
“The reason we’re bringing it to you tonight is because it’s time sensitive and we’re at the point where we need the extra staffing,” Ellis said. “The pulse on the PD, I can tell you, the guys are working a lot of overtime and they’re getting very tired.”
The hiring process would take two to three months minimally, according to Ellis.
Vice Mayor Duane Strawser pointed out the move would not grow the department, but attempt to get it back to an adequate staffing level.
“I’ve been doing this now for 11 years, and I can’t remember a time when our department has ever been fully staffed,” Strawser said. “We can’t have a professional quality, performing department when they’re not staffed.”
According to Olson, final interviews for the after action report would take place in the beginning of December. She expects the investigation to conclude two to three weeks later.
Ellis said he expects staffing levels to be an issue covered in the report. He described recruitment as “extremely difficult” owing to better pay and benefits at bigger departments, leading it to become somewhat of a training ground for younger recruits recently.
“Filling those positions would be the key at this point to keep staffing levels up,” he said. “They have a very young department, and I think that we need the additional bodies to maintain.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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