Future staffing of the Bartonville Police Department remains in limbo after town council members voted 3-2 on Tuesday to delay a decision on the number of officers to fund in the 2014-2015 fiscal budget.
The move followed an earlier motion that was voted down to fund four fulltime officers and a police chief as recommended in a study by the Texas Police Chiefs Association, which was requested by the council during a meeting on July 29.
Two other proposals offered alternatives using part-time officers to help staff the department. The first alternative outlined a police department staff comprised of a police chief, two fulltime officers and one part-time officer. A second proposal involved staffing a police chief, one fulltime officer and two part-time officers.
Currently, the Bartonville Police Department operates with an interim police chief, one fulltime officer and one part-time officer working 32-hour weeks.
Place 4 council member Betty Medlock pointed out the difference between the proposed budget with a chief and four fulltime officers and the first alternative, which totaled $37,772.
“We’re budgeted for a chief and four fulltime officers. We’ve shown it’s doable,” she said. “This is more important to me than a fresh coat of asphalt. What’s more important to me is safety.”
Jeff Traylor, Place 1 council member, said he campaigned on saving money and suggested the money could be put into reserves. Mayor Bill Scherer indicated he campaigned on better roads for town.
Medlock countered discussion about curbing expenses, asking “Is this about money?”
Jim Langford, mayor pro tem, also favored staffing the department with a chief and four fulltime officers. “I honestly believe the majority of the town wants 24/7 coverage,” he said. “We’ve got the money, we budgeted for it, we have some reserves. I don’t see the trade off to go part-time to put it in the general fund.”
Jaclyn Carrington, Place 2 council member, suggested compromising by staffing with a chief and three fulltime officers.
Town staff was directed to create a new proposal showing the cost of staffing with a chief and three full time officers for review at the Sept. 2 meeting.
About 30 residents packed the town council chambers with several asking council members to staff the police department as recommended by the Texas Police Chiefs Association. The assessment suggested four full-time officers and a police chief to provide optimal coverage of the town in comparison with towns of similar size. The assessment also suggested a need for a crime investigator as well as a sergeant to ensure maximum coverage as the town grows.
Former Mayor Ron Robertson said the town was facing significant growth with two banks, a liquor store and a Kroger 24-hour grocery store currently under construction.
“We’re going to have elements that will affect our lives,” Robertson said.
“The answer is not to move back but to go forward. Give the chief an opportunity to build this department.”