The Roswell Police Committee discussed a proposed master law enforcement officer program for the police department during their regular monthly meeting Monday evening at City Hall.
Chief Phil Smith presented his proposal for a “master track” program which would reward officers with experience, education and physical fitness with extra pay — a program the chief believes could improve retention for the department.
“We have officers who, after they have been here for five years, are employable anywhere and they are really sought after,” Smith told the committee. Several police departments both in state and out have courted Roswell Police officers, thanks in part to the excellent reputation the department has as a professional organization.
“This master track program would give us a way to both reward officers and convince them to stick around,” Smith said. The master track increases could be up to 8 percent, but it would be the rare officer who would score that highly on the exam.
“If we started this today, we have 17 out of 94 officers who would qualify to participate,” Smith said,
The master track looks at physical fitness and overall health of the officer, continuing education credits of the officer, and length of service. Officers with college degrees could qualify for the program more quickly than those without degrees, but officers without college degrees could be eligible for the program with seven years’ experience, Smith said.
“This is all just a proposal, and it can be changed in any way,” Smith said. “It is just something we have been discussing as a way to increase retention.”
At 94 officers, the department is as big as it has ever been, said Councilman Caleb Grant. “Even at 94 officers, according to the FBI statistics the department should be at about 125,” Grant said. “If you go by the volume of calls, then the department should be at about 145.”
City Manager Larry Fry noted that before the master track could be accepted, it would have to be approved by the city’s collective bargaining committee.
Fry suggested the committee discuss the master track program further at next month’s meeting, which will be held at 8 a.m. on May 12.
The committee also discussed traffic on Grand Avenue between Hobbs and Poe streets. Resident Norena Souza told the committee cars were speeding through that neighborhood in the mornings while 120 school children were waiting on school buses.
“It would be awful to wait until there is a tragedy there to do something,” Souza said. The committee decided to discuss the traffic on Grand at the next meeting with the city engineer present to discuss possible solutions to the speeding traffic.
In the meantime, Chief Smith said officers could be on Grand in the morning to keep an eye on traffic.
“We can handle our end of it starting first thing in the morning,” he said.