Reynoldsburg Police Chief Dave Suciu told city council Monday that if he is told to lay off four officers to help cover Reynoldsburg’s projected $1.3-million budget shortage, it will mean eliminating some programs and realigning the remaining staff.
Suciu said the city’s code authorizes the police department to have 58 sworn officer positions: one chief, two lieutenants, nine sergeants and 46 officers. He said currently the department has 53 sworn officers: a chief, two lieutenants, eight sergeants and 42 officers.
“We’re not at full staff as we are right now, and we never have been É I don’t know any police department that is ever at full staff,” Suciu said.
He said currently, the day shift has 13 officers on duty, with a minimum staffing of seven, while the afternoon shift has a total of 14 officers, with a minimum staffing level of six.
On the midnight shift, Suciu said, there are currently has a total of 13 officers on duty with a minimum staff level of five.
“The thing you have to remember is were are a 24/7/365 operation. Everybody gets a couple days off a week, we’ve got guys in the military, sick time, so you can always figure on four or five guys not being there,” Suciu said. “So, there’s not a lot of wiggle room with regard to our patrol division and minimum staffing levels.”
Suciu said the detective bureau has seven detectives and one sergeant, with one detective assigned full-time to a drug task force working with a number of surrounding agencies. A second detective is assigned part-time to a federal computer crime task force and a third to a check fraud task force.
“If and when any layoffs would occur, I probably would have no choice but to bring back those three detectives in those drug task forces because we would need them back here,” Suciu said.
He said if layoffs are necessary, all four part-time positions in the department — two property room clerks and two court liaison officers — would be eliminated first, before any full-time officers covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
If that happens, he said, he would have to pull police officers from off the street or from the detective bureau to do those jobs.
He said with a projected department budget cut of $430,000 in 2012, most likely the officers at the bottom of the pay scale would be laid off, and that could affect more than the four officers city officials have indicated.
“Layoffs in the department would most likely require a realignment of our sworn personnel,” he said. “We’re already operating at a minimal staffing level, so there’s very little that we’re going to be able to do with regard to personnel moves, other than reducing our minimum staffing.
“A lot of calls for service going on these days are two-officer calls, and if we’ve only got three or four out there, it doesn’t take long to get everybody tied up.”
In addition, Suciu said if it gets to the point where officers would have to be laid off, he sees no reason to have a community relations/DARE officer because he would need that person in the patrol or detective bureaus.
Suciu said over the past weekend, the number of calls for service to the Reynoldsburg Police Department reached the 30,000 mark for the year, which is a little over 100 calls per day, on average.
“If we get to the point where we’re having to lay off officers, it would make our ability to respond to these routine calls that much more difficult and we’d be leaning on our neighboring jurisdictions,” Suciu said.
Council President Bill Hills said the bottom line is the department needs to add officers rather than delete them.
“If we have to delete, it’s going to be an elimination and the shifting of people and we end up with less officers out visibly on the streets,” Hills said.