Shortage of police continues to be problem in Liberty

October 09, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS


LIBERTY -The Liberty City Council first said no more overtime for police officers, then agreed to continue paying overtime until more officers return to duty.

The city has two of its five officers, Chief Ron Whited and Steve Garrett, patrolling the city. One is on medical leave, one on administrative leave and one is in school.

Councilman Brad Vaughn said at a council meeting Wednesday that the city has paid more than 100 hours of overtime to the officers in one week and $3,600 was paid in a two-week period to two Casey County sheriff's deputies.


"We're in a hole on this," said Vaughn. He asked why the city is paying county deputies to patrol the city, when the residents pay county tax.

"If they patrol the city, we have to pay," said Mayor Steve Sweeney. He said when the officers worked in the city, they were off duty in the county. They worked when the city only had one officer on duty, he said.

Councilman Larry Bowmer suggested the two officers work nights and ask the sheriff's department to cover the city during the day.

Vaughn suggested hiring another officer.

The council voted to cut the two officers back to 40-hour weeks and ask the county for help in patrolling.

The police chief was to decide what hours he and the other officer would be on duty.

However, Councilman Earl "Monk" Wilson questioned why the mayor has not hired an officer after the council voted earlier to budget for another person.

The council agreed to hire someone for one year. "Is it fair to ask someone to only work one year?" asked Sweeney.

Bowmer suggested hiring a part-time officer until the other officers return.

Garrett said two officers in the sheriff's department will be on vacation in a couple of weeks.

Without solving the problem, the council spent 25 minutes in executive session to discuss personnel but did not find a solution.

After talking about asking the state police and sheriff's department to help until next week when one of the absent officers return, the council agreed to continue with the overtime until a solution is found.

Vaughn wanted to ask the sheriff's department to help out during the day, but Wilson and Councilman Barry Davis want a city officers on duty during the day.

"The sheriff's department has been nothing but totally agreeable to help us out," said Sweeney.

"The constables have been working in town, too," said Bowmer.

"If someone else has a better idea, let's hear it," said Vaughn.

"Are we sure we won't have day coverage?" asked Davis. "Am I the only one uncomfortable with this?"

Sweeney assured the council that the sheriff's department will help cover the city.

In the end, the council agreed to keep city officers on the streets 24 hours a day, pay the overtime then discuss the police problems in a special meeting later.

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