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Citing Overworked Department, Ft. Wright Adds 2 Police Officers

The City of Fort Wright may soon see an end to its recurring issue in recent years of an understaffed police department.

City Council approved a 12th appointed officer to join the ranks on Wednesday, as well as a 13th officer approved by a 5-1 margin. Those in favor: Councilmen Joe Averdick, Adam Feinauer, Dave Abeln, Scott Wall, and Mike Hoerlein; opposed: Bernie Wessels.

Despite being authorized to employ a 12th officer since 2007, the city has been operating with 11.

Recently, Mayor Dave Hatter said he has spoken with many officers to gain a better sense of the climate within the department. He said one of their main concerns dealt with their safety during peak time if a situation arose when an officer in the field by themselves found access to another officer unavailable. While the addition of a 12th officer may help ease the burden, Hatter was still initially hesitant about adding the 13th and final position and wanted to be sold on it by Chief Daniel Kreinest and Captain Marc Schworer, he said.

Hatter was eventually won over.

“The bottom line is, any time you hire a new position, that’s substantial cost: It’s not just the money of people up here, it’s the money of people living in the city paying taxes. It’s a substantial expense by the time you add up the salary, benefits and equipment," Hatter said. "We’ve pulled up data from a number of police departments, including the data from five police departments from the last year, all of their manpower and activity level. We have all of that data and after looking it over, to me, it is pretty obvious that we are much busier than many of our neighbors. How do we make sure that we’re not overworking folks?”

But Wessels questioned Kreinest on the validity of officers employed by the department running out of steam quickly because of being overworked and not knowing how busy the department was prior to being hired. He added that they shouldn’t be here for a short period of time, only to realize they did not know the rigors of the job they signed up for in the city, the councilman pressed.

But, Kreinest said that it was “time we move forward and address (the officer shortage)” and in the end – council agreed.

Other Notes:

Fort Wright EMS signed an agreement with its battery mate in Park Hills to continue to make calls in its neighboring city, City Administrator Gary Huff said. The deal is for two years, the maximum it can presently sign for, and pays Fort Wright $65,000 annually. Huff added that Park Hills was very happy with the quality of service the city’s EMTs have provided for them.

Council discussed the potential overhaul its radio communications system may have in the future as the Kenton County Communications Center adds new digital radios to its facility. It should be noted that a decision on whether to purchase these new radios for public safety personnel would likely not take place until 2018 and will be further discussed as part of future city budget plans.

The city would like to discuss further with Sanitation District 1, regarding the temporary sewer line that exists on the Nature Center that sits beside Highland Avenue that has been plagued by landslides and other issues for the past several years. Hatter told council that he is not opposed to the idea of bringing in a representative from SD1 to discuss.

Written by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor