Granite Shoals police chief asks city for more officers and vehicles

Granite Shoals Police Chief Gary Boshears

Granite Shoals Police Chief Gary Boshears is asking the city to fund two more patrol officer positions so the department can provide better 24-hour police coverage of the community. File photo

Granite Shoals Police Chief Gary Boshears is asking the city for more patrol officers and vehicles.

Boshears requested that funding for two additional officer positions as well as two more patrol vehicles be added to the city’s 2020-21 budget during a Granite Shoals City Council meeting Aug. 24.

He pointed to a significant yearly increase in service calls to the police department.

The issue, of course, is money.

Mayor Carl Brugger said two more officers and their benefits would add $142,000 to the budget. Two more patrol cars and other equipment would be $118,000. That’s a total of $260,000.

The additions would allow for at least two officers per shift, Boshears told the council, something for which he advocated during the last two budgets.

The mayor also pointed out a forecasted 2019-20 budget surplus of $350,000. He suggested the council consider a mid-year budget adjustment to purchase the two police vehicles and make the two hires. 

During the meeting, Boshears presented a line chart of a five-year comparison of calls for service that displayed a steady increase from 5,882 in 2016 to a projected 12,029 this year. The projected total is based on the number of calls from January through July, the chief explained. 

Calls for service include 9-1-1 and nonemergency line calls as well as officer-initiated activity such as traffic stops, security checks on businesses, home welfare checks, and community relations events. 

“This is all community-oriented policing,” Boshears said. “It’s what you need to be doing.”

The chief also pointed out the department’s aging fleet of patrol vehicles. Boshears drives a 2012 police vehicle, the oldest in the department. The fleet also includes a 2013 model with more than 100,000 miles on it, two 2014 models, and two 2016 models that are “hanging in there,” he said. The two newest patrol vehicles are from 2018 and 2020.

Councilor Steve Hougen inquired about officers sharing vehicles, but Boshears said data shows that when officers are assigned their own vehicles, they take better care of them and the vehicles last longer.

Plus, if an officer has a patrol vehicle at home, he or she can respond to a scene more quickly if called in from off duty.

City Manager Jeff Looney supported Boshears’ request for more officers and the vehicles.

“I think we’ll be fine either way for the funding for the officers,” he said. “What the chief and the mayor said is extremely important. The chief made it clear he needed those positions. If he didn’t last year, he’s making it clear now.”  

Councilors Bruce Jones, Will Skinner, and Ron Munos said they are in favor of the hires.

In other business:

The council held the first public hearing on a proposed property tax rate of 59.86 cents per $100 valuation. The second hearing is Thursday, Sept. 3, in the council chambers at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. 

The tax rate and budget are scheduled to be approved Tuesday, Sept. 8, during the council’s regular meeting.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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