The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

City Hall: Changing organizational tables at PD and Code Enforcement not rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic

In City Hall on June 11, 2009 at 8:08 am

It’s called “flattening” the organization.

Police Chief Greg Graham detailed to the City Council this week how he is shifting the Police Department’s table of organization to have fewer top dogs and, so, a few more dogs to work the streets.

His changes will eliminate two captain slots – now vacant because of retirements – and add five sergeant spots to the department’s table of organization.

This will make for five captain positions instead of seven; 27 sergeant slots, up from 22; while the number of lieutenants will remain at 13, according to a count by the department on Thursday.

In addition, the department will have a civilian manage the city’s animal control operation, which will allow a police sergeant who has been in that slot to return to other department duties.

In the mix, too, Graham is eliminating a vacant detective slot as well as a vacant animal control kennel work job.

Throw all the changes together and the department will still have the same number of swore police officers – about 200. But the police chief says the department will have better “line-level supervision” and less top management.

At the City Council meeting Wednesday evening, council member Justin Shields asked Graham if cutting the number of captains slots might frustrate officers because it limited the number of top posts officers could aspire to fill.

Graham said it might frustrate officers because it does take away a few promotional opportunities. But the chief said he didn’t want to maintain a particular table of organization just so officers can be promoted. Positions need to have “viable functions,” he said.

“We had too many captains,” the chief said.

When all the budgetary math related to the reorganization is done, Graham is saving the city about $83,000, he told the council.

City Manager Jim Prosser also detailed a reorganization of the city’s Code Enforcement office.

The council earlier this year added nine new positions to the Code Enforcement operation to enable the city to more effectively oversee the flood-recovery rebuilding effort in the city.

One of the changes is to a Code Enforcement management position, which will eliminate the housing/zoning manager post and replace it with an assistant code enforcement manager position.

The reorganization will create two positions with the title “nuisance abatement officer.”

Council member Justin Shields told Prosser that he has been urging the city to take care of a couple of particular nuisances for a year. He asked the city manager if the nuisance positions might better get things done.

Code Enforcement now will have the equivalent of 38.5 full-time positions, up from 38.17, Prosser said.

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