Botbyl wants to add officer, restructure department
Sunday, March 17, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - The Menominee Finance Committee will meet at 4 this afternoon ahead of 6 p.m. council meeting to push forward with setting the 2013-2014 fiscal budget. One of the main areas expected to be addressed is a request from Police Chief Brett Botbyl to add one more officer and possibly reorganize his department.
The department has been under the microscope because of overtime costs.
"Our overtime is large. It's something I have no control over really," said Botbyl. "But I agree that we are paying an exorbitant amount of overtime just to backfill an officer when he's sick or takes a vacation day or whether we don't have enough officers to cover the complaint traffic that is coming into the department."
One reason for the increased overtime is that the department, which operates 24/7, has been cut by from 19 to 15 positions, while crime and the number of responses have continued to climb.
"This is not a police chief problem. This is a community problem," said Botbyl. "We can only provide the services that the council approves the number of bodies to provide. It's ultimately up to them what they want to do."
In 2009, the department received 1,811 calls for service compared to 2,980 calls in 2012. The number of arrests has also climbed from 466 criminal arrests two years ago to 570 last year.
Botbyl noted that there are increases across the board in the number of violent and property crimes, crimes involving weapons and crimes against his officers, such as resisting and obstructing. It's the chief's policy not to have fewer than two officers on the road at a time for reasons of safety.
There are a number of other factors that play into increased overtime expenses including sick leave, vacations, court time, special events and writing reports.
According to Botbyl, the reduction of personnel has translated into other issues.
"It's becoming quite stressful on the officers," he said. "I would say it directly affects morale as well." The chief said his people need to decompress and spend time with their families.
A smaller police force has also had an impact on the community. Cuts have been made to program services like D.A.R.E., Neighborhood Watch and the bicycle patrol. The department is also strapped when it comes to having enough manpower to conduct special patrols for drunken driving enforcement, drug interdiction and traffic enforcement.
"We are strictly a reactive department," he said. "There is no pro-activity per se that we can really do because as soon as we try that, an officer gets called off so it makes it very difficult for us."
The council recently approved the addition of one new officer, who started last week, and the chief has made no secret that he plans to ask for another officer in this next budget which starts in July.
But there's more. Botbyl would also like to create a captain's position to assist with an ever-increasing administrative load which includes performance appraisals, scheduling, payroll, log maintenance, etc. Under former City Manager Richard Goode, the captain's position was approved but never funded.
"It's almost unheard of a department of this size does not have a either a captain or a couple of lieutenants to assist in day-to-day operations of a department," explained Botbyl. The realignment would cost approximately $25,000 in addition to the $150,000 addition of the two new officers.
"With the reorganization I would essentially add a captain's position; we would still have the detective lieutenant and I would add another sergeant position which would give me a supervisor on every shift," explained Botbyl. "Right now, that's not possible."
With the added officer and restructuring, the department could have three people on each shift which would also allow for more traffic enforcement, less overtime and more supervision.
Botbyl said the city of Menominee would be hurting if the department didn't have a good working relationship with other law enforcement agencies in the area that come in to assist. Those agencies include the Menominee County Sheriff's Department, Michigan State Police, UPSET and the Marinette Police Department.
"All the surrounding law enforcement agencies on both sides of the river are here on a beacon call and that's something we're very fortunate of," said Botbyl.