Emerging from the dark times known as the “Great Recession” that necessitated the slashing of several city budgets down to the bone, Oakdale City Council members on Monday night approved a resolution to reinstate two lieutenant positions within the Oakdale Police Department. These were positions that’d been previously budgeted in years past but were axed when times got hard.
Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller gave a short presentation detailing the immense workload the current staff is struggling with to maintain day-to-day operations, which leaves zero time for long-term planning or management of bigger issues.
According to Heller, by expanding the department’s management workload capacity, long-term functions and projects would improve as well as policy review, legal update assistance and grant research, application and management functions would also benefit, similar to what was established prior to the culling in 2009.
Overall, the reestablishment of the lieutenant positions increases the police department’s capacity to provide a higher level of service to the community by effectively managing both short-term and long-term problem-solving challenges. It also provides for more efficient administrative investigation oversight and management.
In Heller’s documentation, he provided, in 2017, the police department experienced an approximate 44 percent increase in administrative investigations as compared to 2016. There was an overall increase in calls for service over the past two years (representing a 19 percent increase from 2015-2017). This significant increase in calls for service places an increased demand on the overall operations of the police department.
Council members were immediately on board with the plan, seeming happy that this change could be put into play.
Council member J.R. McCarty said, “I’m personally in favor of this. I think this will help the department. It seems you guys are stretched pretty thin.”
Councilman Richard Murdoch agreed saying, “My hat’s off to you for doing as well as you have.”
However, while no one would disagree that it’s a good idea to reestablish the lieutenant positions, the original reason the positions were cut — a lack of resources — remains a touchy issue.
City Manager Bryan Whitemyer confirmed to council members that without Measure Y funds, not only would this move not be feasible but also the recent hiring of five police officers and additional firefighters would be in jeopardy if Measure Y does not pass with voters for another term.
In other council news, council members were given the annual water report, which Oakdale residents should’ve received a copy of in their monthly water statement this month. Anyone who did not receive a copy can get another one from City Hall.