Sherwood Police Department to welcome new officers
The Sherwood Police Department will soon be boosting its manpower thanks to the addition of two new officers to the force.
The officers were added when the City Council adopted its new budget in July.
The process leading up to the addition of the officers has had its challenges over the past several years, including the recession, according to Police Chief Jeff Groth.
"The department really hadn't grown and the community continued to grow," Groth said. "Our demand for service continued to go up — the necessity was we needed to continue to grow to be able to maintain the same level of service and provide the services the community values."
The police department started conversations with the City Council.
"We began conversations with the Police Advisory Board," he said. "They began gathering input from the community and we just clarified the community's desire to have a well-staffed police department."
Discussions involved specific services of the police department, such as school resource officers and investigators.
"The message from the community was pretty clear that those are things they valued," Groth said. "In particular, they valued having more school resource officers to work with the young people in Sherwood. That information was gathered and shared with City Council."
Groth continued: "The city manager directed the police department to put together a plan and what that might look like. So we put together the staffing plan, presented it to council and ultimately the budget committee. It was approved and the process of implementing the plan began two years ago."
According to Groth, it's essentially a three-year staffing plan, beginning with the addition of an administrative assistant and two officer positions in the last budget year.
"This budget year we added two more officer positions," Groth said, noting that next budget year (year three of the plan) another few positions will be added.
The two new officers are not on board yet; there is a process that has to take place.
"We have not hired those two positions yet," he said. "We're in the recruiting and the hiring process now for those two who were added in July — folks need to remember that when you add a police officer, you have quite an extensive training period, depending on whether you hire somebody whose brand new or somebody who has some experience."
An individual new to police work faces Police Academy and basic training.
As to when the new officers will be added, Groth said, "We hope to get them hired this fall, or certainly well before the end of the year."
Groth said there's currently no Police Academy scheduled after the first of the year because of budget cuts at the state level.
"We're hopeful that the Emergency Board of the legislature will authorize some classes after the first of the year, but that hasn't happened yet, so right now we have no idea when they would be able to attend the academy, if they needed to. If we hired people with experience, what we call lateral hires, they may not need to attend the academy," he said.
When recruiting new officers, the Sherwood Police Department can look within the state or explore nationwide.
"It's hard to tell where exactly the recruitment will reach," Groth said. "In the past, we have had officers apply from out of state, from as far away as the Midwest and the Southwest. But you just never know. It's hard to say. It varies. Certainly we have a lot of applicants from within the state. It just depends."
It's uncertain exactly what role the new officers will serve in the department.
"They (new members) get hired as police officers," Groth said. "We rarely hire into any position."
Groth continued, "This is really about staffing, strengthening our staffing and our numbers so we have the people on board that we can use to meet different needs."
City Council President Tim Rosener added, "Part of this is catch up. Part of this is making sure that we're staying ahead of the curve so our city continues to be a safe place well into the future — a place where people feel safe and comfortable living. The challenge is once you get behind on that, it's very difficult to get caught up."
Summarizing the need for additional officers, Groth said, "Really what it comes down to is it better enables us to do the job the community expects from us."
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