RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – In a bid to cut overtime costs, the Ridgefield Police Department is seeking two additional officers as part of its request for a nearly $224,000 increase in its budget, Police Chief John Roche said.
The move would restore two patrolman positions that the department lost in 2008-09, which would be about $127,000 of the budget request this year. The total budget for the department is nearly $5.031 million, up from $4.807 million in 2012.
“We need to unfreeze those positions and come back to where we should be,” Roche said at a special budget meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Thursday night. “I’m not asking for additional people, I’m just asking to go where we were.”
The two patrolmen positions would ease the amount of overtime in the and would enable the department to have a stronger presence on the streets, Roche said.
“We run 20,000 calls a year,” he said. "We're slightly down this year, 17,000, but we have had six people in training."
When asked about the two additional School Resource Officers sought by the Board of Education, Roche said that if it came down to money, the two patrolmen would be better to have than the SROs.
Drawing controversy was Roche’s capital request for $392,000 for a simulcast radio upgrade. The upgrade would allow the department to get rid of radio dead-zones and promote stronger communications between officers on patrol and dispatch.
However, the board was unsure about approving this request because the Communications Task Force has not yet completed its study of the communications of the fire and highway departments. Also, the town spent $235,000 last year to upgrade the dispatch station at headquarters.
The money, Roche said, would be spent anyway once the task force finished their town wide master plan, and that this upgrade fulfilled a very real need to increase communications within the department. He added that the task force was fully behind the upgrade.
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