'...a little bit of a disconnect'
By: LISA CARTER , Staff writer 07/28/2004
Police and selectmen grapple over who has the authority to revive the deputy police chief's position.

Last month before the Board of Police Commissioners, Police Chief Paul Jakubson broached the subject of resurrecting the deputy police chief position. But before the merits of bringing back the position could be hashed out, the discussion took a surprising turn as to whether or not the police commission had the authority to create the position and fill it.
Selectman Charlie Walz contended that the town charter gave selectmen authority to create and fill the position. The police commissioners maintained that state statute gave them the authority to carry out these functions.
While those issues have yet to be resolved, members of the Board of Finance July 21 weighed in on the concept from a budgetary standpoint.
The question of bringing back the deputy chief's position comes approximately seven years after the position was phased out. Around that time, an independent management study of the police department known as the Crockett Report was issued, and it recommended a more horizontal structure in the police department's personnel organization including the four lieutenants in place today.
With the recent retirement of two veteran police officers and the resignation of one recently hired patrol officer, the department currently has a police chief, four lieutenants, four sergeants, and 15 patrol officers. The police chief is the only member of the department not in the police union.
The 2004-05 budget has no specific line item for a deputy police chief, although there is a line item for the police chief's salary. If a deputy chief position was created, it would take the place of one of the four lieutenants, and the deputy's salary would be somewhere between a lieutenant's salary of $62,000 or $63,000 and the chief's salary of $84,000. It would thus require, in effect, the addition of approximately $10,000 in police salary money.
In order to finance the newly added position in this year's budget, BOF Chairman Fillmore McPherson said the chief would have to take money out of other line items and transfer them.
But finance board member Jim Deephouse saw the situation differently.
"The Board of Finance will have to create a line item, if we so desire," he retorted.
BOF member Peter Pardo said that that was not necessarily the case, however, as the salary of the last deputy chief, Carl Jordan, was lumped together in one line item with the chief's salary.
"I think that's an issue for the Board of Finance to discuss if it ever comes to that point," said Deephouse.
In addition to questions of budgetary procedure, BOF member Cynthia O'Connor questioned the necessity of the deputy police chief position, especially in a year of severe fiscal cutbacks.
"We just had (these) very heated discussions, and it's in the newspaper, and it's everywhere else about these officers have to be cut, and the D.A.R.E. program has to be cut, and now we're talking about adding another head...so that the chief has somebody to bounce something off of," said O'Connor. "I guess I'm having a little bit of a disconnect on that."
O'Connor added that she did not understand why the chief and commission would want to spend more money on this new position, when at the same time complaints are being aired about losing money to keep officers patrolling the street and working with schoolchildren.
McPherson steered clear of voicing opinions on the merits of the deputy chief position and said such qualitative questions need to be addressed elsewhere.
"You're asking the wrong person," said McPherson.

©Shore Line Times 2004

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