by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith presented the public safety budget to the Committee of the Whole in the first of at least two looks at department needs for the coming year. One need in particular is the staffing of officers in the Police Department.
With eight full-time and 12 part-time officers, plus one full-time slot to fill, trustees asked Smith how many officers are needed for a community the size of Elburn.
“The question is what a community of this size should have for a police department staff,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “Speaking for me, we need, from a comfort level standpoint, to know where we are. Should we have 58 police officers or eight officers?”
Smith said that complex formulas can be applied that look at the number of people in the city, the number of calls received, the types of crimes and the size of the area that is covered. He cited FBI standards as suggesting two officers for every 1,000 population. But in the end, it’s a judgment call.
“It’s not like factory work. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Smith said. “It’s the best we can do for the safety of our officers and our citizens.”
The board also discussed with Smith the issue of whether to fill the full-time slot with part-time officers. Citing flexibility of staffing to cover sick days and vacation and the added expense of paying a full-time officer benefits and vacation leave, Smith gave his recommendation to stay with part-time staffing.
“We’re good with part-timers right now. With part-time, you’re not going to incur vacation and benefits that you pay to full-timers,” Smith said. “Full-time is best in the future, but we don’t need another full-time officer right now. On my wish-list, I would have one, but that’s several years out.”