August 1, 2013

City to hire part-time police

Rising overtime costs prompt discussion

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer


Although city council members voted to hire part-time police officers, it was not without some discussion by the panel.

The special-called meeting brought out four of six council members, who later passed the first reading of the ordinance that will help the city to cut costs by using part-time officers. Mayor Troy Rudder said the part-time officers had to be certified officers with at least five years of experience in law enforcement and would be used to patrol during special events such as 5K runs, parades, and other events. Currently, the city is using full-time officers to patrol these events, but at overtime pay rates.

Councilman Jim Hays voiced concern that full-time officers could be threatened with being placed on part-time status as a penalty, which Rudder said was not an issue. Rudder explained the part-time officers — most of which would consist of retired officers — would be hired on an “as needed” basis.

In the event a full-time officer is off work for injury, illness, or training, the city could hire a part-time officer to offset the cost of overtime. These retired officials are already receiving retirement benefits therefore the city would not be responsible to pay health insurance, sick or vacation time.

The ordinance outlined that all applicants must undergo state and national background checks, can only work a maximum of 99 hours per month, and must have five years of active duty.

Councilman Bobby Joe Parman questioned the active duty requirement, with Rudder interjecting that the five-year specification would apply to officers who might have worked in the law enforcement field but moved on to other employment.  Hays again questioned the lack of benefits paid to these part-time officers.

“It takes special people to put their lives on the line and they should enjoy the same benefits,” Hays added.

However, Rudder said the part-time officers would have some liability insurance, although retired officers working on a part-time basis already had coverage under the state’s retirement plan.

The ordinance will be approved upon publication in the local newspaper.