Columbus PD reduces force due to budget constraints

By: 
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Columbus Police Department (CPD) has reduced its force by one probationary officer and has laid off its administrative assistant due to budget constraints.

The officer who was released was still in his probationary period, so the city made the decision to not continue with his appointment, said CPD Chief Jacob Ward and Columbus CIty Clerk Kisha Miller.

The administrative assistant who was laid off has been given a recall option, according to Miller. This means that if the position becomes open again, the former administrative assistant will be given the opportunity to return to the position, if she chooses.

Chief Ward said reducing the force was Mayor Gary Woltermann's decision. 

Miller explained that the reduction was due to "financial reasons."

Woltermann had not responded to the News regarding the matter by deadline

Including Ward, CPD now has five officers. Although the force is smaller, CPD will continue its 24-hour coverage, according to the chief.

BUDGET ISSUES

Currenty, 90 percent of the $586,000 CPD budget has been committed (spent), with the majority of expenditures coming in the form of salaries and wages for permanent employees. Typically at this point in the year, the goal is to be at 70 to 80 percent committed, said Miller.

During last year’s budgeting process, Miller noted on the preliminary paperwork that she was worried the law enforcement account “may not be adequately budgeted due to the fact that with the increase of employees, there may not be enough funds budgeted to support these employees for their supply needs, training and travel.”

CPD’s budget is currently over-committed on accounts related to repair and maintenance and supplies.

With one less officer and the elimination of a part-time position, a small portion of the budget will be freed up, however Miller noted that the released employees will receive payouts for unused benefits that could come to $5,000 total. The remainder of the money allocated for temporary employees will go into the fund to support the full-time employees.

Ward noted that the department has been “streamlining a lot of things” due to technology, so CPD will be able to function despite the loss of the administrative assistant.

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