Council presented with TPD facts to hire officers

By Melanie Yingst

February 19, 2014

Melanie Yingst

TROY — City council met as a whole after the regular council meeting Tuesday to discuss a recommendation authorizing a reappropriation ordinance for the General Fund in the amount of $168,230 to add three additional police officers in 2014, with the understanding that a fourth officer will be requested in the 2015 budget.

Mayor Michael Beamish declared to hire three additional police officers just hours after a shootout on Monroe Street on Dec. 29, 2013.

On Dec. 29, Franklin Jones III, 30, of Troy, was shot and killed when officers responded to the area of Monroe Street after a 24-year-old man was allegedly wounded by Jones in a domestic dispute. Police confronted Jones in an alley where gunfire was exchanged and Jones was killed.

Troy Police Department Sgt. Jeff Kunkleman was shot through the calf during the incident. The following officers were involved in the shooting incident: Sgt. Jeff Kunkleman; Patrolman Jesse Canan; Patrolman Jared Cole and Miami County Sheriff’s Deputy Will Roberts. All are on paid administrative leave until cleared by a grand jury this week.

At the Nov. 20, 2013, city budget workshop, it was noted that three fire fighter positions and four police officer positions remained vacant.

At the Nov. 20, 2013 budget workshop, Titterington said the numbers were being monitored closely.

On Tuesday, Titterington also said a study was being done in concern to the fire department.

City auditor John Stickel said the reappropration would not have a drastic effect on the city’s General Fund.

“We are going to handle the extra officers with no problem,” Stickel said.

“We felt confident we could handle this,” Titterington said of the additional funds to staff the police department on Tuesday.

“Based on the analysis, I recommend that the police department be returned to an authorized strength of 43 officers,” Phelps said. “That number is within the calculations of the Community Oriented Policing Services study, but accounts for our community and workload differences, declining calls for service, stable crime rate and population growth. This is sufficient authorized strength, provided staffing is increased gradually so as to not overload training officers and is maintained at that level.”

Phelps said the department is already in the process of hiring officers at this time and the earliest an officer can begin training could be mid-March.

According to city of Troy Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington, an ordinance will be prepared in the future to include the $168,230 reappropriation as well as fire department staffing, street department equipment and the police staffing proposal.

Council members asked Chief Phelps a variety of questions concerning the additional officers.

Councilman Tom Kendall thanked Phelps for his report, which he said was “insightful.”

Kendall asked if the number of officers at 43 would provide a stable police force.

“I do,” Phelps said.

Phelps presented data including uniformed patrol staffing levels, calls for service and other data to determine whether current staffing levels were adequate or if they should be increased.

Phelps stated he wished staffing be increased in three steps with two additional officers hired in March, one officer in May, and one officer as of Jan, 1, 2015, due to training constraints. Phelps stated to council that Troy Police Department also has taken on duties such as transporting its own prisoners due to sheriff’s office cuts as well as spending time finding safe alternatives for people when the jail is full.

Phelps said the new reporting shows call volume is down, but does not account for home checks and other types of calls.

“These are issues that play in to our needs,” Phelps told council.

Phelps also said he has studied how to adjust shifts. Phelps said at the current time, officers are working 8.5 hours a day, six days a week, followed three days off. Phelps said with current staffing levels there is not a solution to adjust levels.

At the regular city council meeting prior the committee meeting, council passed the following legislation: an amended resolution to support efforts to encourage regional sustainability. It was the resolution’s third reading and passed with Oda voting “No.”

Council unanimously approved to release a mortgage lien for Fiessinger Family’s Road Pop Stop.

Council unanimously approved the second ordinance to abandon a small parcel of Heywood Park and revert the land back to the Troy City Schools’ board of education.

Councilman Alan Clark was not present at the meetings and was formerly excused by council.

For more information, see Thursday’s edition of the Troy Daily News.

Melanie Yingst can be reached at (937) 440-5254 or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews.