With a growing population and an increase in calls for service, the city of Blue Grass has decided to add a third full-time officer to its ranks, Police Chief Garrett Jahns said Wednesday.
The Blue Grass City Council approved the new position by a 5-0 vote at its meeting Monday night.
"This is our first new full-time officer in 19 years," he said.
Jahns, who is only the fifth police chief to serve Blue Grass, said the department now is staffed by two full-time officers, including himself, and four part-time officers. A fifth recently left to take a job at the Scott County Sheriff's Department.
"The last time we had three full-time officers was about 2003 when Jeff Blake left for Walcott Police Department," he said. Blake, who joined the department as an officer later was promoted its chief — a role he continues to hold.
Jahns said both the city council and the police department were committed to adding the new position. In addition to funding from the city, he said the police department made budget cuts in order to afford the hire. He and his sergeant agreed to not claim overtime and instead take comp time, and the entire police staff will not receive any raises this year.
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The additional officer will cost $56,525 between salary and benefits. It pays $20 an hour.
"It's still very safe here," Jahns said. But an increase in both new housing additions and incidents created the need for more manpower.
Since he was hired as a Blue Grass police officer in 2012, Jahns said calls for service have nearly doubled from 1,173 calls back then to 2,336 in 2018.
The new hire, who will begin July 1, also will help provide overlap in some hours of coverage as well as help cover some of the hours that now go unmanned, he said. Currently, there are hours that no Blue Grass officer is on patrol and the city relies on coverage by the Scott County deputies, he added.
He hopes to find a candidate who already is certified because the city did not budget to send someone to the police academy. Jahns said Blue Grass hasn't sent a new hire to the academy since 1986.
Applications are being taken for 10 days at www.cityofbluegrassia.org. Candidates also can stop in city hall or the police department for an application.