In my June report to Mayor & Council I talked about the status of vacancies in the police department. At that time we had six vacancies and I had anticipated filling at least four of those by August 1st. Regrettably, I did not achieve this goal. As of the date of this report, we have filled only three of our six vacancies. We have three applicants for the remaining vacancies, all of whom are recent graduates of the Prince George’s County Municipal Police Academy. We are moving along with their background investigation process.
Two of the three officers we have just hired will be sworn in at the September 5th Council meeting – Officers Crystal Goldring and Kirk Banton. Our third new officer, Aaron Wilson is scheduled to start on September 5th. He cannot be sworn in until the November Council meeting because he will not reach the age of 21 until October 25th and is therefore ineligible for police officer status until after that date.
Officer Michael Halterlein will also be sworn in on September 5th. Officer Halterlein has completed his comparative compliance training and is now certified by the State and has started field training. Because of his prior experience with the Kansas City, Missouri police, I am confident that he will be able to successfully complete his FTO period in the minimum time required.
Although we have cut our vacancy level in half, we continue to operate at minimum staffing levels and will continue to do so at least through the fall. Due to the increased number of complaints in the Perry/Otis Street sector (which includes the City Hall Plaza) we are using CSAFE Community Policing overtime funds to put two officers on focused enforcement in the area on Friday and Saturday nights between 8 PM and 1 AM. We will do this at least through the end of September when we will reassess the need to continue this overtime assignment.
We have discontinued using temporary employees to fill our administrative position in Records. We have two applicants for this vacant position, both of whom are bilingual (English/Spanish). Once the necessary background checks are completed, we will move to hire one of the applicants to fill the administrative position.
Vehicle Fleet/Budget Issues:
At the September 5th Council meeting, the Mayor & Council will be asked to authorize a resolution to dispose of four police vehicles that are no longer serviceable for police patrol operations. Our fleet is now at its lowest level in many years, and our remaining vehicles are now requiring an increased level of maintenance and repair. The average age of the marked fleet is 8.6 years, with an average mileage approaching 80,000. We have already spent in more than 20% of our FY07 maintenance budget as of September 1st. When we finally get to the point of being fully staffed this fall, we will be two vehicles short of being able to assign one vehicle per patrol officer.
We have ordered the new police vehicles approved in the FY07 budget, and we are expecting them to be delivered in 60 to 90 days. Although the FY07 budget allowed for two new marked vehicles, the dollar amount allocated ($10,000) was insufficient to fund the purchase. In order to accomplish the goal, I consulted with the City Manager and the Treasurer and reallocated $4,500 from CIP monies approved for the purchase of a laser speed-measuring device. Funds for the laser will now have to come out of our ITF drug funds.
These two vehicles will not result in an overall net increase in our marked patrol fleet. Two of the vehicles being disposed of are unmarked administrative vehicles, and we are not authorized to replace either of these unmarked vehicles this fiscal year. LT Stoots therefore will have to remain assigned to a marked vehicle although his command position has historically rated an unmarked vehicle. It is my most urgent request that any additional funds that may come available be earmarked for police vehicle acquisition.
The yearly totals that now include the month of July 2006 showed an overall decrease of 1.62% over the same period last year. In my last written report, at the end of June, we were up 6.1%. Our major crime concerns continue to be robberies and aggravated assaults. Considering our reduced staffing level, I am pleased with our officers’ efforts in working to reduce overall crime in the City. We have made several arrests involving individuals who we believe have committed a large number of street/citizen robberies both in Mt. Rainier and in surrounding jurisdictions. We are in the process of working with Prince George’s County Police detectives to tie these individuals to additional victims.