Leitchfield Police Chief Kevin Henderson recently requested support and funding to increase manpower, as well as purchase a number of necessary upgrades for the Leitchfield Police Department during the regularly scheduled Monday, May 6 Leitchfield City Council Meeting.
“The Police Department does not generate any revenue, but we have to have it,” he said. “Crime doesn’t stop.”
Henderson said when he previously worked with the LPD, the department had a total of 17 police officers. Currently, he said the LPD has 14 officers, including himself, which has resulted in a number of scheduling and overtime issues.
“If one [officer] takes off, we’re in disarray,” said Henderson.
Henderson said 75 percent of the calls the LPD investigates can be handled with one officer, but the other 25 percent need at least two or more.
If one officer calls in to be absent, another officer must fill in, causing a string of swapped shifts and extra overtime for officers, he said.
“We’ve paid out enough in over time over the past fiscal year we could have hired someone,” Henderson said.
The cost of outfitting a new officer with a uniform, salary, training, equipment, weapons, vehicle, and hazardous duty retirement equals about $80,000; however, this would not be an annual cost, Henderson said.
City Council Member Billy Dallas suggested the possibility of hiring a part-time employee to reduce some of the cost but also help fill in the gaps in the LPD’s schedule, an idea which Henderson said he had also considered.
Henderson emphasized that part-time officers would need to be trained as though they were full time, but “even two-and-a-half guys would be better,” he said.
In addition to more manpower, Henderson also discussed the need for every police officer to have his own up-to-date vehicle.
A police vehicle, if driven by only one officer, can last for eight to ten years; however, if vehicles are shared by more than one officer, they last only a year.
The City recently purchased the LPD two new back-ordered Chevrolet Capris from Dan Powers, which are scheduled to be manufactured in Australia on May 21.
Henderson said the City could purchase two Dodge vehicles in Lexington that are currently in stock for a lower price; however, Mayor William Thomason said it would be better to purchase local to boost the City’s economy.
Henderson requested an additional computer server, on which to store data, as well. Currently, the LPD has only one server system in which is stored all of the department’s information.
The City Council approved funding the LPD’s purchase of a new server system, as well as four new computers at the cost of $11,200. Henderson said the computers and server are currently on order and should arrive within the next couple of weeks.
The need for an additional server comes down to a safety issue, Henderson said.
“We’ve got a lot of critical information here, and we need to keep it safe,” he said.
The new server is also needed to allow the LPD to use the e-Warrant system, which allows an individual to request a warrant, the LPD fill out an application for a warrant, have the individual sign the application, then the application can be sent to the judge for approval electronically - thus, eliminating the need for numerous paper copies, Henderson said.
City Council Member Steven Elder said he supported the police department’s requests, but the cost of fulfilling all of them would likely be an issue.
The funding for the LPD’s requests would likely come out of the City’s surplus budget; however, the surplus has depleted over time and to continue drawing money from it be unwise, Mayor William Thomason said.
“In five years, you won’t have a dime of surplus left,” Thomason said.
To remedy this, Thomason suggested raising the garbage rate, which has not risen since 2003. While Thomason understands that citizens of the City would likely not appreciate an increase in the tax rate, it would pale in comparison to what tax rates would be were the surplus to run out, he said.
Nevertheless, Elder said, “We’ve got to find the money for the Chief.”