Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Salem police manpower down to 17

POSTED: April 6, 2010

SALEM - The Salem Police Department is down to 17 officers with the resignation of Ptl. Scott Shoaff last month, Chief Bob Floor said.
Shoaff's resignation for personal issues came within days of the city placing three police officers on layoff. His resignation was effective April 2.
On March 3, eight employees were placed on indefinite layoff along with those three, including three firefighters, the police secretary and a part-time housing inspector.
Floor said his normal staffing is 24 officers. Currently staffing includes himself, three lieutenants, four sergeants, and nine patrolmen. One sergeant is assigned the drug task force, directly attached to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), putting in-house strength at 16.
Floor said he hasn't seen department strength "that low since the 1960s or 1970s."
He sent a request for Shoaff's replacement, to bring a laid-off officer back, to Service Safety Director Steve Andres two weeks ago but hasn't received a response.
Floor explained that with current manpower, three of seven days, or 37 percent of the time, they are using three-man shifts, while there are four officers on the other days.
"If anyone calls off during the three days we have three officers, we have to call someone in," Floor said, adding that it meant overtime. He said for now, the officer calling off "needs to show a hardship or sick time."
Floor said he didn't have any updated figures on overtime, but there have already been several instances with people calling off.
"I've had to turn down vacation and holiday requests," he said, explaining officers, since they all work holidays, accrue the time and then request to use it later.
Floor said they can take it when manpower permits, but quickly added, "The problem is we're in a situation in which manpower won't permit it."
With the weather breaking, officers will be requesting vacation time.
Manpower isn't his only concern. Of the department's seven vehicles, five are now operational and one of those, a Ford Crown Victoria cruiser, is being used sparingly.
"One, (the Jeep used by sergeants) has limited use," Floor said, "it's leaking oil and could be a major expense ... it smokes out the exhaust." The Jeep is a 2007.
Floor said one cruiser is currently in the shop.
"The latest breakdown," he said.
"We were crossing through town and it wouldn't shift."
The cruiser has over 100,000 miles on it and Floor said if it was a major expense, "we won't fix it."
The two newest cruisers were purchased two years ago with Federal Drug Forfeiture Funds.
That is money the city receives as the result of having a police officer working undercover with a Drug Enforcement Agency task force and is commonly used by police departments around the country.
The 2008 Ford Explorer used by lieutenants was acquired in a trade of a Cadillac Escalade the department received under the Federal Assets and Forfeiture program of the DEA.
At one time, the city attempted to put police vehicle replacement on a rotational basis.
With the police secretary laid off, Floor said he and Lt. Don Beeson pick up the additional paperwork along with other officers.
He also said the practice of placing cruisers around the city to deter speeders has been scaled back.
Larry Shields can be reached at

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