06/14/13 — Fremont officials are trying to beef up police patrols

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Fremont officials are trying to beef up police patrols

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on June 14, 2013 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- In developing a 2013-14 budget, Fremont's town board is looking for ways to find more money to pay for part-time police officers.

Last month, Mayor Darren Flowers formed a committee to discuss the issue. An increase would allow the town to continue to pay officers for working nights when criminal activity often increases, Police Chief Paul Moats Jr. said.

Moats had requested $26,000 for the line item but aldermen have stuck with the $18,000 recommended by Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie.

"It's better than it was. It was $11,000 for years." Moats said. "We're trying to put a Band-Aid on a bad cut when we might need a tourniquet."

Part-time officers cover weekend day shifts to keep the streets of Fremont under 24-hour patrol and allow two full-time officers to work overlapping shifts Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, he said.

Moats says he wants to have more than one officer on duty those nights so that backup is right around the corner as opposed to a Wayne County sheriff's deputy who might be 20 minutes away.

Even if the funding is lower than what he sought, Moats said he will not pull the officers off of double coverage on weekends, saying he believes it is necessary to keep the crime rates as low as he has been seeing since moving to double coverage. It also helps keep his officers safe while on patrol, he added.

The Police Department is applying for a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission that would ease some of the scheduling conflicts by adding $6,000 to the budget.

Moats is optimistic the grant will come in by the middle of the fiscal year or for the 2015-16 budget.

Moats said he likely will eventually request the addition of another full-time officer to help alleviate the need for part-time work.

"A fifth full-time officer would be a stable cost that we knew what we were paying. It would decrease the guesses on what we're going to end up paying," he said.

A new full-time officer would essentially eliminate week to week part-time hours but the department's part-time officers would be able to maintain their certifications with the department.

"Most of our part-timers are full-time at another department or have civilian full-time employment," said Moats. "They use this to supplement their income."

McDuffie said that the reason for the $8,000 reduction from the requested amount to $18,000 was to cover the two $4,000 payments on the two new police cars the town recently purchased.