By Katie Dahlstrom
CLINTON — Some of the Clinton Police Department's struggles could be caused by a lack of officers, ineffective scheduling or something else entirely, which Police Chief Brian Guy hopes a staffing study will reveal.
The Clinton Police Department will contract Macomb, Ill.-based Etico Solutions to pinpoint what needs to be changed in order to have the most effective police force.
"In some cases, it's not just personnel that you need to look at. You need to look at the whole picture, your calls for service, your time off, all those things to determine if you're adequately staffed," Guy told members of the City Services Committee last week.
When Etico performed a similar study on the Moline, Ill. Police Department this year, the firm suggested the department modify work schedules instead of bulking up the department.
The department is experiencing what Guy called a significant staffing crunch because it has lost six officers since 2008, a 13 percent reduction of the sworn staff. The study will give Guy and other city officials insight into where the department should be in terms of personnel.
Guy also pointed to the Clinton department's greying force, which entails more vacation and other paid time off. This, along with other factors, means that comparing the number of officers to departments in other cities is not the best way to evaluate staffing, he explained.
"We've never done anything like this to determine our staffing. I think it's time we at least have this moving forward to determine where we're at," Guy said.
Using U.S. Department of Justice funding will mean the city has no financial obligation toward the $16,500 study.
The city also won't be obligated to adopt any of the suggested changes. Some of the suggestions, such as shifts worked, would be subject to collective bargaining agreements and would need to be hashed out through that process.
Study results would be available by the time the city begins next year's budget process.
At-large Councilman John Rowland asked how the staffing study would play into the city's participation in Clinton County's law center assessment.
At the last City Council meeting, members agreed to be part of the county assessment, which will include the possibilities for housing the city's police department in the same space as the county's facilities.
Guy said Etico will be informed of the county study.
"There's a give and take there with what we're talking about the economies of scale of whether or not we should be consolidated or not," Guy said. "I think there's a lot of savings in the plant services as it relates to that, but I don't know how much it's going to affect the staffing or deployment."
The committee unanimously agreed to put the staffing study on the City Council's next consent agenda.