The Police Council Committee is dusting off an old idea and making it fresh as a means of helping with the manpower shortages that continue to plague the Roswell Police Department. The idea of bringing back the Police Service Aides has been proposed by Ward 3 Councilor Jeanine Best.
City Hall has two job descriptions for PSAs, one dating back to 1978. The most recent comes from 2004.
Sgt. Jimmy Preston explained, “The PSA program was set up for a specific purpose, as a stepping-stone to get young people into law enforcement. It ended because we could not get enough 18- to 20-year-olds who qualified to apply.”
He referred to it as a beneficial program, but, “The age limit became a problem because there are not a lot of people of that group who are interested in police work.”
Best agreed that the age limitation had detracted from the program in the past. She hopes to eliminate that restriction. She believes the youngest age should be 20 and the program opened up to former police officers and retirees. “Kids do not have a work ethic as we once did.”
According to Best, the police service aides will write incident reports which will allow local RPD to address major crimes. The PSA will be a part-time post. “They will not be put in harm’s way at all. We need to have the officers left to work doing their jobs.”
She feels that the reintroduction of the position of PSA will free the city to hire more police. Best praised the police for their efforts when they are so short staffed. “What is going on now is not right, in terms of crime and in terms of getting police officers, and it’s us down here in the trenches, the people of the community, that are paying.”
The RPD has six officers and one sergeant who started as PSAs, including Sgt. Rusty Brisco, Detective Robert Scribner, Detective Jeff Prince and Officer Erica O’Bryon.
The old hands would welcome the return of the program. Thirteen-year veteran Scribner said, “It gives insight to the job. You get to see things in a different aspect. … We have experienced it from the other side as officers and having PSAs really helps.”
Prince, with 11 years’ experience, said the program had been advantageous for him. “It was my introduction into law enforcement and it’s why I’m still here.”
The PSAs of the past and those positions proposed now would take care of non-emergency calls, parking tickets, parking lot complaints, criminal damage, traffic accidents without injuries which, said Prince, “frees up a certified officer to do other things.”
Once all the details are ironed out, the proposal and job description will be turned over to City Attorney Barbara Patterson and City Administrator Larry Fry to check for any potential legal ramifications.
“It will be open to anyone who is physically capable,” said Best. “These guys are trying so hard. I rode around with them and they are really great guys.”
“We need new blood to fix this,” Best referred to her experience breeding livestock and sheep where she would bring in fresh genetic material to keep the herd strong.
“We need to be proactive. I’m all about making the community better. If you present me with a problem, I will find a solution,” Best said.