SWANSEA — Police Chief George Arruda came before the Advisory and Finance Board to discuss his proposed budget that includes an additional two officers.
During the meeting held at the Police Headquarters Community Room last Wednesday evening, the chief outlined his reasons for the request. The chief was requesting a $193,004 in the salary line bringing the total to $2,950,179.76 that included two additional officers as well as the two percent pay increase.
The chief noted that he currently has two sergeants and six officers for the midnight to eight shift as well as the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift. There is also a school resource officer on the 8-4 shift who can be called out of the schools if the department is short on the road. The 4 p.m. to midnight shift includes two sergeant and seven officers. Chief Arruda noted that he currently has a budget for 32 officers, but has rarely had that many due to retirements, illness or injury and in some cases, officers leaving the department. Where it takes 25 weeks for a prospective officer to go through the academy and the academy is not always available, the chief has usually not been able to have the full compliment of officers.
He pointed out that the department had 34 officers (including the chief) in 2000-01 but the budget crisis that followed resulted in the department going down to 28. Chief Arruda added that a report filed by a Roger Williams University study in 2005 found that, based on population and other factors, the department should be at 36 officers.
Along with the patrol officers and sergeants, the department currently has two lieutenants and two detectives. Four full time dispatchers, a maintenance man, and an administrative assistant make up the remainder of the paid staff.
Chief Arruda was also requesting an increase in the overtime budget from $310,200 to $325,200. A&F Board member Christopher Howard asked if the two additional officers would decrease the amount of overtime, the chief said that he could not be positive that would happen. He noted that there are a lot of factors involved depending on incidents, court time, illness and injury. He pointed out that the shifts are at full strength only about 53 percent of the time.
"I spend the money as if it was my own," the chief told the board."We have a lot of transient traffic, we get a lot of visitors along with our own population."
Town Administrator John McAuliffe note that the standard is usually two officers for every 1,000 population and that the town has close to 17,000.
The chief noted that the department responded to approximately 30,000 calls last year. In cases of people in crisis, domestics and calls of that nature, at least two officers respond.
The chief noted that the department spent over $359,000 in overtime and had three officers in the academy.
He noted that reserve pay remains at $68,000 after increasing the hourly amount from $13 to $17 a year ago. Holiday pay was up from $88,787 to $90,787. That pay comes in when an officer works a holiday at time and a half for an eight hour shift, or opts for an alternate day off. Night differential pay for those working 4 p.m. to midnight and those working midnight to 8 a.m. is an additional 50 cents an hour and brings the total to $97,273 for that line.
Specialist pay for those who are EMT, field training officers, firearms officer are $25 a week extra.
the total salary request is $3,618,442.41.
The chief also discussed the expense portion of the budget that included maintenance and supplies for the building as well as vehicles, utilities, and other expenses coming to $357,613.
There was also a portion for equipment that included first said, flares, ammunition, detective supplies and others for a total of $80,765.
The total budget was $4,059,321 or $196,966 over last year.
There will be a separate article for capital items like new cruisers.
The A&F Board took the budget under advisement.