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City okays contract paying sheriff deputies overtime to cover empty shifts

JCSO GRAPHIC - Madras will hire Jefferson County deputies on overtime to fill in for Madras Police staffing shortages.

The Madras Police Department has so few officers, the city has agreed to pay Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies overtime to fill the gaps in their staffing.

The MPD has an authorized strength of 12 sworn officers, including the Chief of Police; but right now it has only four officers working patrol shift. The agency has five vacancies, including the chief position. In addition to that, one officer is on medical leave and another officer is in field training and not yet available to work solo status. Those four officers work 12-hour patrol shifts, four days on and four days off. "On paper this provides 24-hour coverage," writes Director of Police Services Steve Bartol. "However, if there are any vacancies created by illness, vacation, court, training, etc., shortages are created."

JCSO deputies have been filling in those staffing gaps, but Bartol points out these have been on-duty deputies responsible for the entire county, not just Madras. This leads to delayed response times. The Madras City Council voted to implement a staff proposal to pay the county for an extra deputy when MPD officers are unavailable. This extra deputy would be dedicated to patrolling the city of Madras while a regularly scheduled deputy covers other areas of the county. The compensation will be at a fully loaded top step overtime deputy wage, despite which pay step the deputy is in. That rate, including the vehicle, is $92 to $96 an hour. The proposal suggests this agreement remain in effect until MPD can increase its staffing, which could be as long as a couple years, Sheriff Jason Pollock told Jefferson County Commissioners. He said he has deputies who are ready to take on these new duties.

The city is trying to recruit lateral officers who have already been trained, and entry level officers who need to attend the police training academy. Bartol says even if new recruits are onboarded by the end of this year, the new hires won't be able to begin training until June of 2023. The training lasts 16 weeks. After the academy, recruits go through Field Training and Evaluation within the department, five phases each generally lasting five weeks. An officer hired by the end of this year likely will not be ready for solo status in a patrol unit until January or February of 2024.

Bartol says the department currently has one lateral applicant going through the background investigation, and two entry-level recruits in early stages of the application process.

Human Resources Director Charo Miller told the council she is beginning to work on Police Chief recruitment.

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