While Mammoth proposes laying off 7 of 17 sworn police officers, Bishop will be hiring 2 new officers as of Jan 1, 2013. Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter reported to the Bishop City Council on Monday that, without a waive on the current hiring freeze, the Police Department would soon be down to only 10 officers to cover Bishop’s population of about 3,879 residents (compare that to Mammoth’s proposed 10 officers covering a population of about 8,234 residents). One BPD officer resigned from the department in January 2012, Chief Carter explained, while the second recently notified the department that he would be taking a job with the Inyo County District Attorney’s Office as an investigator.
Chief Carter testified to the current challenges faced by the BPD with a team of 11, noting, “We don’t have one of those industries where if there’s no one to work that day, we just don’t work. You gotta put cops on the street. So you end up working people more hours than they should, and quite honestly we’re in the business where we have to be on our A game all the time, so if an officer is tired, if he’s not paying attention, there’s a risk to his or her safety. I can also tell you that when you’re working your fifth or sixth day straight, at 4 in the morning when you’re sitting down to write a report, that’s pretty challenging to remember all the facts and the circumstances.
“But more than anything else, [a short staff] has the tendency to take a toll on the health and well-being of the officers themselves, and their families. I think the biggest impact is on those people that are still working, because they’re now carrying the workload.”
The BPD has operated with 12-14 officers, including the Chief, since Carter took over as Chief of Police in 2003. He also noted that the BPD is currently budgeted for 12 officers, which would mean no significant changes to the budget should the Council approve the waive on the hiring freeze.
Council had nothing but praise to offer the BPD.
“It’s amazing, the performance of the department so far with the few officers you have,” said Council Member David Stottlemyre.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ellis added, “I’ve talked to some of the officers recently, and for them, it’s not ‘all about me.’ It’s about doing the job.”
Councilmembers unanimously approved waiving the hiring freeze.
When asked by The Sheet about the stark contrast between the BPD’s addition of 2 new hires and the MLPD’s reduction by 40%, Chief Carter responded, “I don’t know the history or the details of the issues in Mammoth, or their budget or how their spending’s been, I can only speak about Bishop. But I can tell you that we have continually, from the time I started here as a patrol officer, evaluated the functioning of the department, and have always looked for ways in which to streamline, save money, and be more efficient. We’ve learned how to operate with what we have to get the job done. We’re just fortunate the city has done a good job of remaining fiscally sound so that we can continue to staff the PD at least as close to full staffing as necessary to give the level of service that’s needed.”