DeKALB – DeKalb aldermen will consider adding two patrol officers to the police department during their meeting Monday.
DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery submitted a request to amend the department’s current staffing plan from 46 patrol officers to 48. Adding two officers would reduce the number of calls per officer and the amount of overtime the city pays, Lowery explained in a memo to aldermen.
The police department is authorized to have 46 patrol officers, which does not included corporals, sergeants, lieutenants and other higher-ranking police officials. The department was authorized to have 46 patrol officers in 2009, which was reduced to 43 in 2011.
Mayor John Rey said he will support the request based on the number of calls officers handle. According to information provided by Lowery, 62 officers handled 671 calls each in 2013.
“Given the high incident of calls for officers, I think adding two more is well justified,” Rey said.
Funding for the two positions, $160,076, was included in the budget for the current fiscal year under general fund support, which will need to be transferred to the patrol services budget if aldermen approve it.
Ward 6 Alderman Dave Baker said he’s pushed for the city to hire more police and firefighters because the call volume for each department has risen continuously.
“If you find an alderman who doesn’t support adding more police officers, I would tell them to take a ride-along,” Baker said.
Since cuts in fiscal year 2010, staffing at the police department has grown from 79 to nearly 88 employees. The number of city staff overall has increased since budget cuts reduced staff from 231 in fiscal year 2010 to 200 in fiscal year 2011. If the council decides to add two patrol officers, the city’s staffing plan would allow for 218 employees.
DeKalb police handle more calls for service than any other agency in the county.