If his patience was tested, he hid it well. Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson delivered his staff report regarding police personnel to the Mammoth Town Council on Wednesday night as if it was the first go round, not the third. Specifically, he requested that Council fill the Lieutenant position.
“I never heard them say no, just that they needed more information,” Watson told The Sheet regarding the two previous meetings on Dec. 15, 2010 and Jan. 19. “As long as the door was still open, it was fine.”
Even though Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon had some concerns about the sustainability of the position in the 2011/2012 fiscal year (“I don’t want to hire someone I would have to turn around and fire,” she said), as well as where the additional costs incurred for the remainder of the current fiscal year would be pulled, she made the vote unanimous.
Council approved filling and funding the Lieutenant position for the remainder of the fiscal year. Watson will most likely promote a Sergeant to fill the Lieutenant position, therefore leaving a vacant Sergeant position. He would then fill the Sergeant position with a Police Officer, therefore leaving a vacancy there. Council did not authorize him to hire a new Police Officer, so that position would stay empty. Therefore the number of bodies at the MLPD won’t change; they will just be reshuffled.
“These changes take awhile to go through,” Watson explained. “It will most likely take several months, but if everything did happen to go through before the end of the fiscal year, it would cost an additional $25,000, maximum.”
The School Resource Officer, which was heavily debated at the Jan. 19 meeting, will still be funded for the remainder of the fiscal year, however at least one Council member has stated that he will not support it going forward into the 2011/12 budget.
“It is a luxury we can’t afford,” Councilman John Eastman stated on Jan. 19.
Watson believes it is important to keep the SRO at the schools. He has been discussing the situation with School Superintendent Rich Boccia, who is also supportive of the position and planned to discuss cost offsets with his Board.