Pennington ‘flattens’ PTC police dept.
City manager’s reorganization plan would ax 3 captains, create assistant chief, put 1 additional officer on patrol
A proposal to eliminate three of four captain-rank positions in the Peachtree City Police Department will be discussed by the City Council Thursday night.
The proposal would save close to $400,000 by eliminating the three positions including the total savings from salary, benefits and equipment, said City Manager Jim Pennington.
That savings, however, would not be poured into additional patrol resources beyond one “community policing officer” on the community response team. The other new proposed positions are administrative in nature.
Part of Pennington’s overarching proposal is to eventually increase the total staff at the police department from 73 full-time to 74 full-time employees.
If approved by council, the three captain positions would be “phased out” with the final elimination no later than Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. If those positions aren’t vacated by attrition or retirement, those employees will be let go, he said, adding that the city hasn’t yet chosen which three captains would be let go.
The city would not demote the captains and cause a ripple effect down the command chain, but any employee who is let go would be able to apply for a new open position if they wish to, Pennington noted.
A flow chart of the new department depicts nine new positions, most of which will be filled with officers reassigned from their current duties, Pennington said. Some of the positions however have been created so they can be handled by civilian employees instead of sworn officers, he added.
“This is one of the things we are looking at,” Pennington said of the potential increase of a civilian presence at the department.
The current organization features one captain in charge of the entire patrol unit along with the community response team, one in charge of administrative services, one in charge of the criminal investigations division and one in charge of the professional standards office.
The new structure would create a new captain’s position that would supervise the entire patrol unit, community response team and criminal investigations. The office of professional standards would be overseen by a lieutenant instead of a captain who would supervise an accreditation manager, a training sergeant and a training officer.
The reorganization would reduce the number of patrol lieutenants from four to two, making each patrol lieutenant responsible for supervising two different shifts worth of officers, a total of 18 subordinates each. Currently there are four patrol lieutenants, one for each shift, who are in charge of nine officers each.
One of the current patrol lieutenants also supervises the seven-man community response team.
“We’re trying to get more emphasis on the lieutenants because that’s your wave of the future,” Pennington said. That hasn’t made this recommendation any easier though, he added.
Specifically about the four existing police captains, Pennington said: “I think they are all very nice people and qualified and have spent a considerable amount of time with the city and they have been very dedicated to the city, all four of them.”
Pennington added that he is very pleased with the performance of all the city’s police officers. In fact, some of the various duties assigned to captains may go to rank and file officers or to civilians, such as the role of public information officer, who interfaces with local media on various matters. Currently, the captain who is the PIO is also in charge of accreditation matters for the entire agency, which has maintained both state and national accreditation.
“My focus has got to be on the essentials and what are we providing to the public that is essential,” Pennington said. “... We’re not planning on doing a lot of new hires.”
In other personnel changes not affecting the police department, Pennington is recommending to leave vacant the administrative services director position at City Hall and eliminating a full-time customer service representative to be replaced by two part-timers (savings of $19,415).
Pennington also wants to eliminate the position of executive assistant and replace it with a position entitled administrative services coordinator that has increased supervisory responsibilities. That change would cost the city an additional $3,851 a year due to the corresponding salary grade increase.
Pennington also is recommending a change to the city’s compensatory time policy that would require employees to receive overtime pay at time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per week. Department heads would be allowed to approve comp time to be accrued at the same rate, though it must be used within six weeks of accrual or paid out to remove it from the city’s records.
Pennington in his memo noted that the city budgets only 1 percent of its total payroll costs for overtime pay for the current fiscal year, and city managers make sure overtime is used only “when absolutely necessary.”
Pennington is also recommending changes to the city’s leave policies including:
• A cap on accrued sick leave for new employees of 240 hours. Existing city employees have a cap of 480 hours but the only time it is paid out is upon employment separation is if the employee retires or dies, according to Pennington’s memo;
• Discontinuing incentive programs for employees to earn additional paid leave each year for safety (avoiding an at-fault vehicle/equipment accident or on-the-job injury) or perfect attendance (with no sick leave or time off used in any pay period).
• Because those programs are being eliminated to simplify the leave policy, Pennington is recommending that the city add one floating holiday for each employee that would not be paid out upon employment separation.