Thursday, January 31, 2013

Police chief to seek 40 new officers

Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch
I wrote a story today about Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones' plan to ask for 20 more deputies to patrol the schools. (Click right smack here.)

Well, he's not the only one who wants more officers.

In talking to Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch yesterday, he told me that he's going to ask the city's administration to restore 40 positions.

I didn't really get into in my story, since it was mostly about school security and Rausch said he doesn't plan to put any new officers – if he gets them – in the schools.

He said in 2003 the department was authorized to hire 456 officers, but over the years the prior administration (re: Gov. Big Bill) cut a number of unfilled jobs. The chief said at the time, the department wasn't retaining the positions, so it did make some sense.

“We're at 416 now – and that's our authorized full strength, but the reality is there's a need for 456,” he told me. “But that doesn't mean we can't keep the city safe. Obviously we can.”

He said he's already mentioned the 40 positions to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and several City Council members.

He also acknowledged that the request will cost some serious coin. My guess - based on what the county pays is that it would be at least $4 million for training, equipment and salaries/benefits in the first year and then about half that afterward.

“The reality is that it costs a lot of money,” he said. “It's a $100,000 an officer from the hiring process through training and through equipment. That's the initial cost. It goes down a little more to sustain it, but it's a lot of money.”

On a side note, I did hear a joke that if the city gets the extra officers, then instead of clocking motorists every 200 yards on I-40, they'll be clocking them at every 100 yards.


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