Again rebuffs MLPD staffing request
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson appeared before the Town Council on Wednesday night to once again request additional personnel for the Police Department, specifically a Lieutenant and a Sergeant. The request had been made previously at the Dec. 15 Council meeting but was voted down 4-1 because Council wanted a better understanding of its financial situation before making a decision. It was waiting on three items, which have since come to conclusion: the Hot Creek litigation appeal which was denied, the Hugelman appeal which went against the Town, and the outsourcing report which has since been completed by Avery and Associates.
“I realize the financial situation is worse than it was on Dec. 15 but my recommendations are the same,” Watson said.
Watson’s plan, as he outlined it to Council, would most likely fill the Lieutenant and Sergeant positions by promoting from within the department. This would leave an empty Police Officer position that Watson would recruit from outside. The cost to the Town for the promotions and the new hire would be $234,000.
“I’ll give you what you want but you have to fit it within your [current] budget,” explained Council member Rick Wood. “I just don’t see how we pay for it [the additional $234,000],” he added, stating that he did not want to use the budget surplus that has slowly been accumulating each month.
“We are growing a surplus but every month there is a request to cut into it,” he said.
Councilmember John Eastman adamantly opposes adding another Police Officer to the force. Instead, he wished to discontinue the School Resource Officer position and move the officer currently filling that spot over to patrol.
“The School Resource Officer is a luxury, PR position that we cannot afford right now and I will not support it,” Eastman said.
With Council member Matthew Lehman attending to official business at the California League of Cities in Sacramento on Wednesday night, the rest of the Council members decided to push the decision off to their Feb. 2 meeting in order to have the full Council’s vote.