The Marshall City Council addressed a number of issues affecting the Marshall Police Department during Thursday’s regularly scheduled city council meeting.
Police Chief Cliff Carruth presented on four separate items to councilmembers on Thursday for the first city meeting of the new year.
Council unanimously approved an ordinance reclassifying two MPD captains as assistant chiefs. Carruth said that the ordinance was a part of work he was doing as chief to work on leadership development within the department.
Carruth said that he has thus far worked on leadership training with the two captains, adjusted staffing decisions, making leadership a priority in the department and discussing it within the department, with the ordinance the next step on this list.
Additionally, he said that the reclassification to assistant chief follows best practices trends across the state and country.
“Really it’s just raising the bar for leadership in our department, from the top to the bottom,” Carruth said.
Additionally, councilmembers unanimously approved modifications proposed by Carruth to the alarm permit ordinance.
Carruth said that the ordinance was set up in 2005 as a way to establish a process where residents or businesses with an alarm service pay a fee, $5 for senior citizens annually or $25 annually, that assists in organizing the police response to alarm systems.
The modifications change the person responsible for the ordinance from the director of planning and community development to the Marshall Police Department, as well as changes the date that the permit expires to one year after purchase.
Additionally, two police department-related items were tabled during the meeting, with council deciding to adjust the items before they are reconsidered.
Councilmembers tabled an item presented by Carruth to allow him to offer signing bonuses for MPD officers and new communication employees.
The bonuses would offer $5,000 to officers signing onto the MPD with at least one year experience, as well as offer $2,500 for new communication employees.
“Law enforcement in the U.S. is facing a hiring crisis, for lots of different reasons, but the bottom line is we aren’t getting the same number of people applying for those positions as we used to,” Carruth said.
The item was tabled after concerns were brought up by Councilmembers Amanda Abraham and Jennifer Truelove.
Abraham stated that she was concerned with the department offering a signing bonus for communication employees when the city’s current employees were still not fully compensated for their certificate pay.
Additionally, she pointed out that the raise in police salary previously approved by the council did not go into effect until January 2022, and therefore they did not know yet whether or not the pay increase would be sufficient to bring in more officers to the department.
Carruth stated during his presentation that the offering of a sign-on bonus has been successful for nearby law enforcement agencies in attracting more officers with experience to their departments. Additionally, he said that it is now common practive among a lot of agencies, and that for the MPD to remain competitive and to fill the open positions they have now, they needed to offer this bonus.
He added that money for the bonuses would not need approval in the budget, since the funds can come from MPD salary savings.
Truelove requested that the item be represented to council, with Carruth working to present councilmembers with more statistics and information on how the bonus would be financially beneficial to the city.
Additionally, Abraham and City Attorney Scott Rectenwald stated that they would also address the issue of certificate pay for the current city communication employees and bring more information on that problem to the next council meeting.
Councilmembers also decided to table changes to an ordinance which governs wrecker services performed by the MPD. Abraham brought up a number of issues with the language of the altered ordinance, with Carruth agreeing to work on cleaning the ordinance up before representing to council.
Councilmembers also officially approved the schedule for city meetings in 2022 on Thursday.