Projected savings of Police Department restructuring examined

SHEILA MATHEWS :::

The Griffin Police Department restructuring plan proposed by City Manager Kenny Smith as a cost-saving measure has been approved by the Board of Commissioners.   The plan, which calls for the elimination of several high-ranking officers’ positions, has sparked citizen outrage and outspoken commentary, with many wondering whether the savings justify the cuts.

In his presentation to the BoC, Smith said he projected his plan would result in annual savings of $140,000. Altogether, Smith’s plan called for the elimination of two majors’ and two captains’ positions; the creation of a separate director of Public Safety position that will be filled by now GPD Chief Frank Strickland; the creation of a Code Enforcement officer’s position; the hiring of a new police chief; and the reassignment of the Solid Waste Department’s Environmental Compliance officer to Code Enforcement.

According to Smith, the savings are derived from the combined salary eliminations after offsetting the costs of the new organizational chart.

Strickland’s new position, described by Smith as a true Public Safety director, will not alter the budget, as his salary, including other costs of employment, will remain unchanged at $133,641. The employment costs of the two majors and two captains, which are cited as budget reductions, totals $371,985.

Meanwhile, employment costs for the new police chief and Code Enforcement officer have been calculated at $95,000 and $43,000 respectively, and the reassignment of the Environmental Compliance officer will result in a $5,000 pay increase. Additionally, Maj. Homer Daniel, who leads the PD’s Uniform Patrol Division, will remain in his current position, reassigned as a captain with a corresponding five percent pay cut. Smith said the reduction in Daniel’s costs of employment from $96,915 to $88,964 will result in savings of $7,951.

Altogether, Smith projects the annual savings will be $140,021.

However, The Grip has learned that one of the positions included in Smith’s restructuring plan – that previously held by Capt. Keith Daniel – would have been eliminated whether or not the proposal was approved.

Prior to any public notification of the restructuring plan, Daniel in early November announced he would be voluntarily retiring at the end of that month. Over the past several years, Griffin officials have eliminated several Police Department positions through attrition, and according to one commissioner, that step would have been taken in regard to Daniel’s position, as well.

“Due to the fact he retired, that position was going to be eliminated, anyway,” Commissioner Cynthia Reid-Ward said one day prior to Smith’s BoC presentation and its subsequent vote.

At the time the restructuring vote took place, Daniel was 10 days into his retirement.

“I don’t see what that has to do with anything, though,” Reid-Ward stated one day prior to casting her vote in favor of the PD restructuring.

Asked after the vote if Daniel’s salary should have been excluded from the projected restructuring savings, Commissioner Dick Morrow said, “I don’t know. You can debate that, I guess.”

If Keith Daniel’s employment costs of $90,366 is excluded from the projected savings, the amount decreases to $49,655, or .56 percent of the Police Department’s current $8,940,523 budget.

He went on to say that it was all part of the same restructuring, whether believed to be part of the savings or not.

“I can’t debate that. We passed one ordinance that took care of everything, including his position being eliminated. It was part of the same overall plan,” Morrow said. He later gave the indication that Keith Daniel’s position had not been eliminated upon his retirement, saying, “Well, there was nothing said that there wasn’t going to be someone promoted into that position. Quite likely, there was going to be someone promoted into it, so I don’t know that you can say Keith (Daniel) wouldn’t be replaced. I think it really fit into this package.”

Morrow added that the portion of the plan that added the Code Enforcement officer’s position originated at the Police Department.

“Or at least with Capt. Keith Daniel – he saw that as a high priority item,” he said.

Keith Daniel led the Code Enforcement Task Force in operation throughout the summer and into the fall.

“That was their (the Task Force) number one recommendation – more Code Enforcement officers in the city – one per police district,” Morrow said. “The present two (Code Enforcement) couldn’t keep up with the need.”

He said he is optimistic that increased Code Enforcement efforts will be productive and result in a positive outcome for the city.

“My personal view is with the new Code Enforcement officer and emphasis on Code Enforcement, it will lead us where we need to go,” Morrow said.  Ω

 

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