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Sweet Home, Oregon
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March 21, 2012     The New Era Paper
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March 21, 2012
 

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~tT~ ~e~ '~ra - March 21,2012 CO/H.I~tUNITV OPINION Page 5 # From page 1 . i Home has been able to take advan- tage of a 2009 law that provides for reimbursement in such situations. The law provides that when a law enforcement officer who is employed in a position that re- quires specific training moves to another agency to take a job that requires the same training, the hiring agency must reimburse the original employer for all or part of the training costs it incurred, based he finished training more than"This'is especially true in light three years prior to his departure, of the fact that the police officers the city couldn't collect on any of involved came to us seeking em- those expenses, ployment under the sincere belief Martin said Sweet Home isn't that their positions with the Sweet the only municipality thathas lost Home Police Department were, or newly trained employees, which is very shortly would be, eliminated," why the the law was passed.Hitt wrote in a March 7 letter. "Unfortunately, that was go- Sweet Home Police Chief ing on quite a bit," he said. "(The Bob Burford said Sweet Home law) was intended to help in these Police staff were notified on Oct. situations, to help local cities re- 14, the day tfiey received word that cover those COsts)' tax revenue would be substantially Oregon, unlike other states, less than officials had expected, requires that police recruits be that in a worst-case scenario, up to hired before they can be trained at five full'time employee POsitions the state police academy, could be at risk. A day later,-staff on how recently the training oc- "If you go out and get a crimi- curred, nal justice degree at a college, Martin said Lebanon has been that's not enough to be a police of- billed for $60,522.84. That in- ricer," he said. "You see movies cludes 100 percent of the training like "Police Academy," but that's costs for Officer Chad Christenson, not how it works in Oregon." who had joined the department on Martin said Lebanon and June 1, 2010 and finished training Sweet Home officials have been Jan. 31, 2011, whose training costs corresponding back and forth since totaled $46,132.33. The rest of the December, when it became evident bill was for Taylor Jackson; who that Lebanon was going tO offer joined on Nov. 7, 2008 and whose the three positions. He said the training lasted till June 27, 2009. Lebanon officials apparently were Per the statute, which allows reim- unaware that they could be billed bursement of 33 percent for offi- for 100 percent of Christenson's cers Whose training ended between training costs and that communi- 24 and 36 months before leaving, - cation with Lebanon city officials that bill is $14,390.51. over that has been ongoing. Let- qjhe sliding scale in the law ters have been exchanged between provides reimbursement of 66 Martin and Lebanon City Manager percent for training that ended be- John Hitt and City Attorney John tween 12 and 24 months. Kennedy, in which they requested Martin said he was aware ofsubstantiation for the charges. the law when it passed, and it be- Hitt has also protested that came part of the city police policy Lebanon has not budgeted for the in 2009, but he hadn't given it cost of reimbursing Sweet Home much thought until, the departure and has questioned Sweet Home's of the three officers, interpretation of the law as it per- Officer Justin McCubbins tains to the situation involving also left in Januars,, but because Christenson and Jackson. members weren0tified that the potential for fund transfers within the city budget would "reduce the depth of Potential staff CUTS,'' he said. On Oct. 25, the City Coun- cil made that Official by acting on staff recommendations to do so, and "SHPD staff was notified that only one officer position would be lost and that was via attrition, as Randy Gill had already resigned to return to the private sector," Bur- ford said. Martin said Sweet Home has billed Lebanon only for the costs of actual training and not for time spent supervising trainees by its veteran officers. "This is what the costs are to us of getting them walking, in the door to the point where they are self-sufficient." He noted that Lebanon likely saved "well more than $150,000" in hiring three certified officers from Sweet Home and that, even if Lebanon pays the $60,000 bill, "they are still $90.000 ahead." On the other hand. Sweet Home will have to pay roughly $150,000 to replace those officers, overtime will be more frequent. though, he said, "the $60,000 will "In addition," he said, "we help defer some of this cost." have one officer with a longtime Burford said that the departure pending retirement. He has agreed of the three has resulted in moving to stay on to help provide adequate two sergeants from supervisory officer safety until the new hires shift, which allowed them to spend can operate solo." half of their 12 hours on duty with Martin said any negotiations the day team and half with the on the billing amount will require night, to one of the vacant patrol Sweet Home council approval and shift. Det. Jason Ogden, who had the matter may come before the been primarily working on narcot- council at its next meeting, March ics enforcement, is back in uniform 27, depending on how Lebanon covering one of the other shifts, responds this week. Both Burford and Det. CyndiBurford characterized the Pichardo "routinely respond to working relationship between help provide backup due to officer Sweet Home and Lebanon police shortages," he said. "In addition, :as "excellent." we have used overtime to have of- "Nothing here will harm that ricers come in on their days off to relationship," he said. "I don't be- cover for sickness and other unan- lieve there is any argument that ticipated absences that leave us too Sweet Home is in a far worse rev- short to provide adequate officer enue position than Lebanon. This safety." billing is codified in State Law and In a March 13 letter to Hitt, is just business, Part of my job Martin noted that the departure of as chief is to protect the interests the three officers also cost Sweet of' the Sweet Home taxpayer and Home "significant" ov.ertime pay that's all we're trying to do here. for its existing officers "as became "We do not pay near as much necessary to maintain adequate as-Lebanon or, for that matter, police coverage, most other agencies. However, at "Even though we have re- this time we're doingall we pos- cruited, tested and hired replace- sibly can. We don't have to pay at ment officers, it will likely be near the top of the scale but we must the end of this calendar year be- strive to be competitive. fore they will be ready to paten- "Lebanon does not have to tially operate independently. The contend with a temporary operat- unanticipated costs for these re- ing levy, can pay more money and placement officers, in addition to recognizes that Sweet Home se- the additional overtime expenses, lects the very best recruits, trains will far exceed the amount of re- them properly and demands integ- imbursement we have requested," rity. he wrote. "They are thus making wise Burf0rd said Sweet Homehiring decisions when recruiting will have three fewer officers on away our officers. Hopefully. they the street during the nine months can see the value to reimbursing us it takes to train new recruits and for the quality they're receiving." > Why do you like to shop locally? "Relationship, relationship, relationship" Brandi you build a relationship with the who produced it, and that leads to more con- at Lifies & Lovelies! " " New Gifts & Decor sg.gII EICH Fresh Flowers Plants Slli.g5 Eli[If Chocolates S19.g5B[g .g5FT. scious consumption and healthier choices. 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