Top commanders at the Glendale Police Department plan to roll out new changes starting Sunday that include a reduction in the number of command divisions and creating two detective pools.
The Police Department’s four divisions — field, investigative, support and administrative services — will be reduced to three, since Capt. Ray Edey is retiring, Police Chief Ron De Pompa said.
The changes are part of a larger effort to reduce overtime costs by $500,000 after the department saw its budget cut by roughly $1.63 million.
“We are concerned that to meet [a] half-million dollar overtime reduction is going to be very difficult, so part of the safeguard is to carry a captain’s vacancy for the balance of the fiscal year and reduce department from four operation divisions to three,” De Pompa said. “That will help generate savings to offset the overtime goal if we fail to meet it.”
Edey oversaw administrative services, which will remain a division, as will field and investigative services. Support services will be rolled into the investigative division, which Capt. Carl Povilaitis will oversee.
Certain bureaus, including professional standards, internal affairs and jail custody, will be added to the administrative division, which Capt. Mike Rock will oversee. Field services will remain under the command of Capt. Todd Stokes.
The department’s reorganization comes as the city has been downsizing its staffing as result of closing a $15.4-million budget gap this fiscal year. The Police Department didn’t lose any sworn positions during the last round of budget cuts, but it did have to cut back on civilian support staffing and overtime funding.
Overtime has proven to be the greatest concern for De Pompa and his commanders because he said the department is understaffed, has a large number of vacancies and more than 20 officers are on long-term injury status.
“The issue is, we can only control overtime to a certain degree because we still have to respond to 911 calls and that’s simply the bottom line,” De Pompa said.
Along with the divisional changes, De Pompa plans to reorganize the department’s investigative units, which he said have been difficult to staff due the number of shortages in patrol.
Two pools of generalist detectives will be assigned to property or violent crimes, instead of having special assignments, he added. Detectives all have the same basic investigative training, along with the expertise they’ve developed for specific crimes.
“It gives us a greater level of agility in applying those resources to whatever crime trends are most prevalent at the time without having pockets of specialists that are solely focused,” De Pompa said.
In July, De Pompa wants to also hire a civilian division commander through an internal promotional hiring process instead of hiring a fourth captain. The commander would oversee administrative services to include jail, records, property, communication and other non-sworn functions, he said.
The non-sworn commander, he said, would “absolutely” be able to act in significant incidents because they would be “performing at a policy level and under that policy level there will be layers of operational commanders handling the sworn and emergency functions.”
“It works seamlessly, flawlessly and presents absolutely no change to the service or outcome we provide,” De Pompa said.
Communications Administrator Theresa Goldman, Business Administrator Jay Kreitz, Jail Administrator Juan Lopez and Records Bureau Administrator Daniela Petters would all eligible for the position, De Pompa added.
The commander, he said, would cost less to employ because the city wouldn’t have to pay retirement and benefits for a sworn position. The salary savings, he said, would allow a captain to bump up to a new deputy chief position.
“To get through this, this is the strategy that we need to employ,” De Pompa said.
At a Dec. 11 City Council meeting, City Manager Scott Ochoa put the annual savings at $75,000, adding that the civilian position provided the “best way to save money.”
“What we are trying to do is be as efficient and frugal as possible without impacting direct service to the community,” he said.
While the position has already received City Council approval, the Civil Service Commission wasn’t as quick to back it.
Some commissioners took aim at certain duties that were assigned to the police civilian commander position, including acting as police chief in his absence or assuming control of crime and disaster scenes despite not having any sworn officer training.
“When you use the word ‘act,’ act is a very, very dangerous description,” Commissioner Garo Ghazarian said at a meeting on Dec. 12.
The commission — which must approve the position so De Pompa can fully implement his new strategy — asked that the commander’s job description be reworked and brought back for reconsideration on Jan. 9.