COLUMBIA — The filling of six positions at the Columbia Police Department has been put on hold due to budget cuts. One of those positions is the deputy chief position.
The order made by City Manager Mike Matthes for all city departments to stay 2 percent under budget for the fiscal year 2012, which ends Sept. 30, has forced the police department to hold off on hiring five officers and a new deputy chief. This decision was made over the course of the past month.
The plan is to fill the five officer positions over the summer with two being filled in July, two in August and one in September. The deputy chief position will be filled before August 15, Capt. Dianne Bernhard said.
Other cuts will be made by cutting down on utilities costs, reworking the department's cellphone plan, decreasing the amount of money for vehicle maintenance and delaying the hiring of two non-officer jobs.
Because the police department continuously recruits potential officers, they already have people ready to fill the positions, Bernhard said. Once the department gets funding, the positions will be filled, and the new officers will start the training process, which can take as long as eight months.
The department has been operating without a deputy chief since former Deputy Chief Stephen Monticelli left the department at the beginning of June. The three captains who run the department bureaus are now reporting to Police Chief Ken Burton.
"It makes it harder for him," Bernhard said. "He made the decision that it was something that he could absorb for awhile."
Until the positions are filled, the workload for the officers will remain at an increased level.
"Anytime there is a vacancy, the other officers will notice it," Bernhard said. "We do the best that we can."
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