Gilbert struggles to fill police positions - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Gilbert struggles to fill police positions

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Posted: Monday, November 15, 2004 5:36 am | Updated: 5:03 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The Gilbert Police Department has 30 vacant sworn officer positions and an officer-to-population ratio that has plummeted well below wh at the Town Council deemed the minimum standard.

The department has been authorized to hire 177 officers, but today has just 147 because of attrition and the roughly one-year process to place a new officer on the street.

Overall, the department has 51 vacancies, according to a new town report.

The Town Council may discuss the report during Tuesday’s meeting. The council also may simply accept the update without comment.

Gilbert police Lt. Joe Ruet said less than 2 percent of applicants are eventually hired.

"The performance level needs to be high, the expectation of the public is high and it doesn’t benefit anyone to drop the standard," Ruet said.

Since January, the department has hired 18 officers. In the same time period, it has lost 19.

The vacancies, coupled with Gilbert adding about 1,000 new residents a month, have dropped the officer-topopulation ratio to 0.89 officers for every 1,000 residents.

The council has set 1.1 officers per 1,000 residents as the minimum standard.

It’s agreed to authorize the hiring of about 80 officers over the next five years to reach that figure.

Of the 19 officers lost to attrition this year, five either resigned or failed the academy, four moved out of state, three were terminated, three left for the private sector, two failed their probationary period, one retired and one left for another local police agency.

Gilbert Town Manager George Pettit said the department is exceeding its overtime budget but is saving some money because of the vacant positions.

But, it’s still possible the department will go over its personnel budget this fiscal year, Pettit said.

The vacancy breakdown is as follows: 30 for police officers, seven for police telecommunicators, six for 911 operators, five for records clerk, one for police service aide and one for police communication shift supervisor.

Another vacant officer position will be filled if a grant is awarded, the report said.

Candidate background checks are in process for all vacancies, the report said.

Ruet said the department’s goal is to be fully staffed by June, "but I don’t know if it’s achievable."

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