Camanche sign in park

CAMANCHE — Camanche Police Chief Colin Reid has seen his department with as few as four officers, and believes the addition of multiple officers to the department, which will reach nine officers next month, has increased the department’s productivity.

Reid, who was hired as the city’s police chief in early 2017, said that at some point in 2017 there were four officers on the payroll, at which time the department had to reach out to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office to help cover the city.

Reid said the department will soon have nine full-time officers on the department, which includes Reid and School Resource Officer Bill Lodge. Reid said a ninth officer hired by the department just completed field training and will not count as staffing on the department’s schedule until February.

Reid said that at the time the department was short staffed, he was exhausting the department’s employees.

“You worry about safety of the community,” Reid said. “You worry about the health and safety of your employees. Long-term stress and lack of sleep affects the heart. And the other thing I had happening here was the officers were working so much that the burnout rate, their productivity, also drops. And then we become a mostly reactive agency. There’s so many things we’re able to do now by getting our staffing up that’s proactive.”

Reid said another issue for the department when staffing was as low as four officers was the inability to attend training. He said it takes a long time to get officers trained back up once the certifications lapse.

Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln said the sheriff’s office serves as the primary law enforcement agency for 11 of 14 communities in Clinton County. Camanche, Clinton and DeWitt have their own police departments.

Lincoln said the sheriff’s office, when assisting the Camanche Police Department, utilized deputies to cover open Camanche Police Department shifts at an overtime rate unless the sheriff’s office had adequate staff coverage, when it would provide the coverage at the regular rate.

Lincoln added he was glad to be able to assist the Camanche Police Department while it rebuilt staffing.

Reid said his focuses as police chief are the safety of the public and his employees, city liability and how to move the agency forward. He said these became difficult to accomplish when the police department was just responding to calls for service, trying to keep up with the call load and when people come to the police department.

“One of the other big hits we take when we don’t have adequate staffing is not only the lack of being proactive and being able to do community policing things, where we try to have better connectivity with our citizens is our main responsibility of investigating crime and potentially making arrests,” Reid said. “An individual case could take weeks of time and need multiple staff people to accomplish that task. So that becomes very difficult, if not impossible, when you don’t have enough personnel to shoulder that burden.”

Reid stated that as staffing has increased over the past two to three years, the department has focused on connectivity with children and the senior population, which Reid saw as lacking. He believes the implementation of the SRO program will pay off, especially years down the road as the SRO starts making an impact in the elementary school. Reid cited the senior outreach program, which he hopes will help the department be proactive rather than reactive to incidents after they occur.

“With this program, we want to let the more senior folks in the community know us and not be worried that they’re bothering us when they have concerns about their safety or scams, frauds,” Reid said. “And if we can prevent those things, we’re money ahead.”

Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis believes the Camanche Police Department is now at a good staffing level with nine officers, including the SRO. He added through the process of setting the number of officers at seven and then increasing it to nine over the past couple years, there was never an increase in the tax asking for the city. Willis believes there was no question staffing needed to increase in the police department.