By Nick Worth
Holbrook Police Chief Mark Jackson and City Manager Ray Alley have been working together to address some of the issues facing the Holbrook Police Department, and have identified several areas that need work.
“I want to make it clear, we are not doing this because the PD is failing in their duties,” said Jackson. “We’re doing this to increase accountability and professionalism.
“We’re still doing our jobs. We’re investigating and solving crimes, and responding to complaints,” Jackson said. He noted the HPD is now running two officers short.
Jackson said the first step in building something is to start with a strong foundation, a message he also delivered to the Holbrook City Council Sept. 24.
To that end, he and Alley recommended to the council that the HPD policy and procedures manual be updated by the Lexipol company, which has designed policy and procedures manuals for police departments across the nation. Several other area law enforcement agencies have also adopted Lexipol’s manuals for their departments.
The council approved the move and Alley said the project to update the manual is moving forward.
“It’s (the contract) been signed and sent off,” Alley said Tuesday.
Jackson said he would begin training on the new manual on Wednesday. He noted that the first step is to answer a 200-question survey about the needs of the HPD. Then he will have to go through Lexipol’s standard policy and procedures manual, take out the parts that do not pertain to the HPD, such as the use of helicopters, and make other changes as needed.
All this must be done before the officers themselves ever start training on the new manual.
Jackson said the Lexipol manual will be adapted to fit the unique needs of Holbrook.
“We can change it to fit our needs,” he said.
“We know there are issues in the PD,” Jackson said. “Our policy and procedures manual is our foundation.”
Attrition of officers is one of the issues Jackson and Alley identified in the HPD. Officers leaving the department for higher pay elsewhere has left HPD with a young department with less experience than other agencies.
Jackson said lack of opportunities for training and pay rates are another concern of the department, and that they cause the attrition issue.
“If a guy gets the opportunity to go somewhere else for $2,000 to $3,000 more, they’re going to go,” said Jackson.
Alley and City Finance Director Randy Sullivan said they have been working on a proposed classification plan to present to the city council on Tuesday, Oct. 8.
According to Alley, the plan includes raises in the minimum, midpoint and maximum pay rate for police officers.
Also up for approval are the addition of a patrol lieutenant position, a full-time/part-time office assistant/evidence clerk position and approval to hire out IT services on an as needed call basis.
Other concerns that were raised at the last council meeting, such as broken cameras in some police cars, are also being worked on, Jackson added.
“We are continuing to bring the PD up to standards,” said Jackson. We have some issues and we’re working on them.”
“The police department and city administration are working together,” Alley added.
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By Nick Worth