With a bond referendum on public safety at the top of the Rye City Council's agenda, there is nothing more timely than the issue of police staffing. What do you think about the current size of the Rye Police Department?
The Rye Police Department is currently down to 34 officers, down from 41, and has one vacancy. Three of the 34 are currently on extended medical leave stretching resources and manpower even further. In June 2010, Rye Police set a hiring freeze and decreased its operating budget.
Police Offcer Michael Kenny, a member of the Rye Police Association, told the City Council those shortages are having an effect on the workload and morale of the remaining police force.
"We are at the bare bones minimum," said Kenny. "I can say as a resident that I don't believe we are meeting the standards we should be for our community. I ask that the City Council look at the manpower issues seriously."
Kenny told the Council the current staff of 34, down from 41, is not sufficient to handle the current workload. Kenny pointed out the department is currently paying overtime to cover shortages instead of opening more hires. The lack of openings also means there are fewer opportunities for advancement within the department.
"To be paying the overtime to cover a position that really could be a promotion within the department is really a mistake," said Councilmember Catherine Parker.
City Manager Scott Pickup said, "The Police Department are feeling the same stress that all City departments are feeling since 2009 in operating with a reduction of staffing levels."
Reached for comment after the meeting, Pickup said there were no plans to revisit the size of the police force. Pickup said, "It is our intent to continue our current patrol squad chart."