Gilbert’s understaffed police department — which has the lowest officer-toresident ratio in the East Valley — may be getting some much-needed manpower.
The Town Council is expected to approve funding Tuesday to add 15 police officers to the department.
The move comes less than a month after Gilbert was denied a federal grant that would have helped pay for the officers, and as a council subcommittee continues to study departmental needs and methods to fund them.
Six council members said they support hiring the officers. Councilman Les Presmyk could not be reached for comment. "We need to take emergency measures," said Councilman Dave Crozier, a member of the police standards subcommittee.
Town Manager George Pettit said the town set aside $970,000 this fiscal year to join the $525,000 in expected federal funds to hire the 15 officers. With the fiscal year nearing its halfway point, the town can cover the expected $904,000 cost through June, Pettit said.
However, no funds are budgeted for the continuing costs of the 15 officers, estimated at $5.3 million over the next four years. "I have no idea where we’re going to get the money," Mayor Steve Berman said.
But the council said the town cannot continue to fall behind its desired ratio of 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents and must improve on its current 8-minute emergency response time — twice the department goal.
According to a town report, Gilbert has added nine officers in the past four years, while the population has increased by more than 50,000.
The ratio per 1,000 residents has dropped from 1.3 to 0.91 and continues to fall as new residents move in. The officer ratio per 1,000 residents is 1.61 in Mesa, 2.04 in Chandler, 1.78 in Tempe and 1.44 in Scottsdale.
Pettit said it typically takes nine months to train new officers. Gilbert also has the option of hiring certified officers from other jurisdictions.
"Fortunately Gilbert has a low crime rate, but we’re living on borrowed time," Councilman Steve Urie said.
If you go
What: Gilbert Town Council
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday Where: Gilbert Municipal Center, 50 E. Civic Center Drive
Information: (480) 503-6871