Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Troy approves hiring of new police officer with federal grant

| July 21, 2020 8:24 AM

Troy City Council approved a popular federal grant during a July 15 meeting that allows the city’s police department to hire an additional officer. An upgrade to the department’s computer systems was also approved.

For Sgt. Henry Roy, adding a fourth officer to the force would be a significant stress reliever for the small police force.

“When one [officer] takes a vacation, we each have to fill in for 48 hours straight, which is a lot of fun” Roy told the council members. “By adding this other officer, we alleviate one person working 48 hours straight.”

The aptly named COPS grant, awarded to local police departments by the U.S. Department of Justice, offers nearly $190,000 in federal funding to hire the new officer for three years. In a June 25 email congratulating the police department on having been awarded the grant, Phillip Keith, Director of the COPS Office, wrote that the funds would become available on July 1, 2020.

Troy is not required to offer any matching funds, but according to Chief of Police Katie Davis, the new officer will have to be kept on for a fourth year. The city also must cover the costs associated with certifying and outfitting the newest member of the force.

At the end of the fourth year, Roy said the department could reapply for a grant.

“I wouldn’t see why we wouldn’t get it, especially if we show just cause that it was needed,” Roy told the council members. “There are agencies that have actually retired officers on this grant.”

In addition to alleviating strain on schedules, the fourth officer would allow the department to focus on “area issues,” according to Davis.

“It’s no secret that we have drugs in the area and DUIs are still a thing,” she said.

With increased manpower, the department also can spare the new officer for 20 hours a week to serve as a resource officer for Troy Public Schools. During the July 15 meeting, councilors also considered a cooperative agreement between the city and the school district concerning the duties of a future resource officer.

Under the memorandum, the position would include law enforcement duties as well as requiring the individual to act as a counselor and an educator. In addition to investigating criminal activity on and around school property, the officer would provide security for school events.

The officer might be required to chaperone on trips, according to Davis.

“I hope you can ski,” she said.

City councilors voted to table the contract as details concerning the officer’s salary and duties remain under negotiation.

In an email sent to Davis on July 14, Superintendent Jacob Francom said he wanted to work on maximizing the officer’s schedule. Instead of having the officer work 10-hour shifts, it would prove more beneficial to the school district if the individual worked five-hour shifts, four days a week, according to Francom.

The superintendent also asked to reduce the yearly payment the district would make to the city to help pay for the officer’s salary.

Roy predicted the department would have success in finding candidates.

“With some of the other stuff going on in certain areas of our country, it’s pretty feasible that we’ll actually get some guys that are already cops looking to escape big city life,” he told city councilors.

During the July 15 meeting, the council members also approved a plan to update the police department’s computer-aided dispatch and record management systems. According to Davis, the department’s existing systems are “maybe two steps above a typewriter” and will soon no longer work with the FBI’s software. Roy said officers would not be able to run criminal background checks if the department’s systems fall into obsolescence.

Rather than purchasing the new systems as standalones, which would have cost $174,000, the department is partnering with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to bring the price tag down to just over $16,000 to the city.

The sheriff’s office sought — and received — permission from the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners to overhaul the dispatch and records systems earlier this year. Money set aside in the county’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes fund paid for the upgrade.

The new system will allow the department to save on maintenance costs, according to Davis. The partnership with the county also lets the department share data with the sheriff’s office.