Chief Mark Collins is seeking another full time officer position for the Smithville Police Department.
During a budget work session with the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen Thursday night, Chief Collins said another police officer is needed to help the department keep up with the growing number of calls.
According to Chief Collins, the police department is answering from 225 to 275 calls per week with two officers per shift. If the city were to add another position, the new officer could be assigned to the second shift which is particularly demanding.
Chief Collins is also requesting that the city alter the wage scale for entry level police officers to make their pay more competitive with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.
“I would like to revamp the pay scale on the patrolman level. Entry level for a police officer is $14.10 per hour and they top out at $19.65 per hour. I would like to do away with the $14.10 per hour, start them at $15.21 per hour, and top out at $20.48 per hour to stay competitive with the county. It would only affect five employees,” said Chief Collins.
Earlier this year the county commission adopted a new wage scale for the Sheriff’s Department. Entry level pay for deputies is now $15.72 per hour and they top out on the sixth tier at $19.17 per hour.
The department needs police cars. Chief Collins said the city can purchase two pre-owns each with less than 50,000 miles on them for a total of $44,000.
The police department’s evidence reporting software needs an upgrade. Chief Collins said a newer program can be purchased for $12,897. “The system we use now is 20 years old and outdated. With the new software, each officer can sit at a computer and type in what the evidence is and the computer will print out a bar code to put on the evidence bag. It can be scanned and logged in. With the new program we will have to furnish the computer but the company will provide the software, scanner and tech support on how to run it,” he said.
Chief Collins said the city needs to look toward relocating the police department headquarters at some point in the future. He said the existing department, which has been located inside city hall since 1974, is too small and lacks privacy and security.
“We need a new police department. The total square footage is 1,196 feet. The booking area is 169 square feet with two desks and that is where 99% of the police work occurs. The space for storing records is 165 square feet and the evidence area is 160 square feet. The two holding cells encompass 160 square feet and we have offices upstairs. We need to start planning because this facility is unsafe for officers and the public. It lacks privacy and there is no way to secure it when we bring people in,” added Chief Collins.
Meanwhile Public Works Director Kevin Robinson is asking the city for funding in the water and sewer department budget to replace 400 feet of sewer lines on Bright Hill Street. The cost is $40,000.
Robinson also wants to purchase a new pickup truck and a used utility truck with a dump bed. The total cost for the trucks is $45,000.
The elevator at city hall is currently out of service and must be upgraded with newer technology in compliance with state requirements. The city has budgeted $60,000 for the expense of repairing and updating the elevator.
The city’s fire hydrants need to be cleaned and color coded. The cost is expected to be $25,000 which includes the cost of renting the machine to clean the hydrants. “My guys can clean them but we may need to hire a part time person to paint them,” said Robinson.