The Oakdale Police Department recently rehired four officers part time using creative methods of retaining them, officers who had been given their pink slips in June due to budget cuts.
Although the officers had been laid off, because they’d been reinstated as Level 1 reserve officers, they were still familiar faces in the squad cars.
Police Chief Marty West stated he had three reasons for doing this, saying, “First, to have a group of reserve officers available for prisoner transport, to help police large city events, and to backfill vacant officer positions as the result of absences due to vacation, illnesses, injuries, etc. Second, to keep their POST certification active so they will not have to attend a recertification academy because of their departure as full-time California peace officers. Any California peace officer leaving employment must attend a recertification course if they are inactive for over three years. Of course, I am hoping to rehire these former employees as soon the city has the funding to do so. Finally, the third reason is to save general fund dollars. Our reserve officers are paid $23.39 per hour to perform the tasks that I’ve described above. I would have to pay a regular officer at least $42 per hour (the time and 1/2 rate) to perform these same duties.”
Of the four, one officer, Aaron Beatty was reinstated as a regular officer in October due to the retirement of a sergeant.
West said he hopes to reinstate the three remaining reserve officers to their former posts, but the recession has had a significant impact on sales and property tax revenues, making that desire difficult at this time.
“They were outstanding employees who collectively made a lot of arrests and dedicated themselves to keeping Oakdale safe,” West said of the four officers. “The three remaining officers who were laid off are veteran law enforcement officers. One of the officers came to us with over eight years of law enforcement experience in two different police departments. He was employed as an Oakdale officer for two years before being laid off. He is a seasoned veteran and a professional officer. Oakdale was fortunate that he chose to leave his former police employer to come to work for us. I am concerned that he will find employment elsewhere before Oakdale recovers financially and is able to reinstate him.”
Currently, the sworn police officer staffing level remains at 21, counting the chief, the lieutenant, and the administrative sergeant. However, administrative staff are not in the field performing police work and one of Oakdale’s officers is assigned to the countywide drug enforcement unit and is not dedicated solely to Oakdale. One officer serves as a detective and is not a first responder, which leaves 16 uniformed police officers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle calls and to perform general police-related work.
On an average, there are three street-level officers on-duty.