Fairfield’s dispatch center will have all full-time personnel in 2022

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There are 11 municipal police departments in Butler County.

Fairfield will consider beefing up the city’s police department 2022 budget by nearly 10% over this year’s budget.

The police department is requesting a $14.8 million budget for next year, an increase of $1.3 million from this year’s budget, which would allow the department to fill all 65 of its uniformed police officer positions. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a divided City Council denied the department in 2020 to hire its full strength of officers amid COVID-related budget concerns. Council did increase the department’s authorized strength from 63 to 65 earlier this year.

Though hiring two new police officers is a big part of the budget, the biggest piece of the 2022 request is converting six part-time dispatch positions into six full-time dispatch positions, as well as reinstating an account clerk, a part-time park ranger, and a part-time animal control officer.

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Fairfield won’t get the the federal JAG funds in 2020 because their violent crime stats were too low. However, they’ve applied for federal funds issued to the state. They hope to be able to purchase seven mass casualty kits to be placed in cruiser and strategically around the city. FILE

Fairfield won’t get the the federal JAG funds in 2020 because their violent crime stats were too low. However, they’ve applied for federal funds issued to the state. They hope to be able to purchase seven mass casualty kits to be placed in cruiser and strategically around the city. FILE
Caption
Fairfield won’t get the the federal JAG funds in 2020 because their violent crime stats were too low. However, they’ve applied for federal funds issued to the state. They hope to be able to purchase seven mass casualty kits to be placed in cruiser and strategically around the city. FILE

ExploreFairfield’s budget to accommodate more first responders in 2022

“This will bring me back to my full allotted positions prior to the changes we made to COVID,” said Fairfield police Chief Steve Maynard. “The biggest changes are we’re going to an all full-time dispatch center.”

The dispatch center operates with full- and part-time dispatchers, but Maynard said this format is not working.

Currently, the dispatch center has a minimum of two dispatchers per shift focusing on police, fire and emergency medical runs. Maynard said the center needs three dispatchers at minimum as police and fire calls have been increasing for the past several years.

“Your dispatchers are your lifeline,” Maynard said during a February presentation. “It’s a very chaotic and stressful job. Finding someone that is organized, level-headed, and can think on their feet, deal with stress, it’s not easy.”

Besides answering calls for emergencies, the dispatch center, which operates 24 hours a day, most calls are for administrative work required by dispatchers, such as entries for missing persons and warrants, training new dispatchers (a five-month process), entering information into the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), and validating the thousands of warrants on file.

“It’s difficult enough to find full-time employees. The pool of applicants for part-time employees was basically non-existent, so we decided we needed to go to a full-time compliment of dispatchers, and in doing so increased the staffing within the dispatch center,” the chief said.

ExploreFairfield may seek fire levy request as early as 2022

Besides hiring two new police officers, Maynard expects to hire four as two current officers are expected to retire in 2022.

Police officers are complimented by the city’s park rangers, a cadre of retired police officers that provide police coverage in the city’s parks. A fourth part-time park ranger will be added to the staff in 2022, said Maynard, which brings them back to their full complement of rangers. With only three rangers, the chief said three days of the week “the coverage is severely lacking.”

“I think four (rangers) gives us good coverage.”

Rangers are sworn police officers and can be dispatched to emergencies if needed, Maynard said.

“This has happened when we’re short, they’ll dispatch them ... if it’s an emergency and they’re available, we’ll send them,” he said.

The city’s 2022 operating budget will be considered for approval at the Dec. 6 City Council meeting.

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