Ft. Wright Hopes to Make Police Department Better for Officers
Hoping to reverse a trend of losing its police officers to surrounding communities, Fort Wright City Council discussed ways to incentivize officers in order for them to stick around longer. The main underlying theme: Many surrounding agencies offer immediate vacation time from day one of employment, whereas Fort Wright’s department is currently structured for an officer to accrue vacation time according to a certain number of hours the officer has accumulated on the job. Each time the city replaces an officer, it costs an average of $18,000-$19,000, so it is searching for ways to become a more competitive option for prospective candidates.
Mayor Dave Hatter said council has battled the perception over the last year that its members don’t listen to officers’ concerns and would like to move forward on several initiatives in order to better serve them. One item on the agenda, Hatter added: The use of a stipend for a city-issued phone. As it currently stands, the officer foots the bill for their phone usage on the job. “The way we do it right now, the people eligible for a city phone…basically department heads, captains, sergeants…(If the new plan is implemented) They buy the phone themselves and they pay for half,” if it’s also used off the clock, City Administrator Gary Huff said. Hatter suggested the city start out at a $30 stipend per month. If the city finds the deal is non-competitive, it would revisit the plan again. Police Captain Marc Schworer added cities such as Ludlow provide $35-$40, so the city’s plan would suffice. “We’re trying to take some positive steps to make it a better police department,” Hatter told council, saying he hoped a new phone plan would be implemented by the next caucus meeting on December 16.
The nuisance code that has been discussed at several meetings will enable police to enforce it on persistent violators – something it has been unable to do up to this point, City Attorney Todd McMurtry said. Blighted properties will be swiftly resolved under the new plan, the attorney added.
Resident Mike Hargis proposed business signage lining the fences surrounding St. Agnes’ athletic fields, Wednesday evening. Many schools in the surrounding area are aided by corporate sponsorship, he told council and it was something that is sorely needed at the elementary school on Sleepy Hollow Rd.
“Corporate sponsors are really very important to St. Agnes in order to keep our technology up, in order to hire some of our part-time teachers and that we pay them. So, anything that we can do to entice people to be corporate sponsors on the various levels that we have of sponsorship…We would rather see people in the area that own businesses to support St. Agnes…The issue is, the other parochial schools and high schools are able to offer recognition for sponsorship in their athletic fields,” he said, specifically citing Covington Catholic, St. Henry and Beechwood. Hargis brought forth the scenario to council because the city ordinance does not contain any material on the matter and the possibility the city might make a contribution to the cause to help sponsors within Fort Wright.
Fort Wright subdivisions continue to be improved upon as city streets Wolfzorn, Oak Hill and Beacon Hill are next in line on the city’s 2016 Street Plan, Huff told Council. The plan is part of the city-wide five year repair window to fix crumbling neighborhood infrastructure.
-Jason Finnell, RCN contributor