ELBURN – The Village Board will consider reinstating a deputy chief position as well as adding a full-time patrol position with the next fiscal year’s budget.
Elburn Police Chief Nick Sikora made the case for both to Village Board members during preliminary budget discussions at the March 5 committee of the whole meeting.
Sikora said the department previously had a deputy chief position, which assisted the chief with a number of administrative and planning responsibilities. He said as the village continues to grow, there are a number of responsibilities on his plate that would warrant the need for additional help.
Managing the capital improvement plan, especially as the village looks at plans for a new building to house the department, emergency operations planning, special events support and permitting, concealed-carry permit reviews and more are items the deputy chief could take on, Sikora said.
Sikora said it also would be beneficial to have a second individual not covered by the bargaining unit in dealing with situations such as internal investigations. He added the deputy chief is a salaried position, which should help to bring down the amount of overtime the department is experiencing.
The discussion of overtime led to the chief’s next proposal: adding another full-time officer to the department.
“We cannot support the staffing model that the department has used for the last multiple years with the current staffing levels,” Sikora said.
Current staff includes six sworn full-time officers and varying numbers of part-time officers. Sikora said in order to cover the required 1,139 shifts annually, the department would need a minimum of 14 part-time officers. He said there have never been more than 10 part-time officers since he has been here.
“It’s been a continual process and a battle,” he said. “I have not stopped advertising for, interviewing and trying to hire part-time officers.”
The lack of sufficient part-time people has finally led to mandated overtime on the part of the full-time officers, and Sikora said he also worries about burnout of those people.
Village President Jeff Walter expressed his support for the additional full-time officer. He said the additional money to provide benefits for a full-time position likely will be somewhat offset by a possible decrease in overtime necessary.
Trustee Ken Anderson added his support. “To me, this is a public safety issue,” he said, adding the time and expense spent on hiring and training is something the village can never get back.
The board generally agreed with the changes, as long as they were reviewed on a regular basis. There will be additional discussion before final approval of the budgets for next year.