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The original item was published from 7/18/2023 2:49:00 PM to 7/18/2023 4:43:33 PM.

News Flash

Columbus News

Posted on: July 18, 2023

[ARCHIVED] WATCH AND READ: Council OK's police chief's plan to recruit part-time officers


Back in 1978, the Bee Gees revolutionized the disco explosion thanks to the success of the John Travolta movie “Saturday Night Fever” and their accompanying soundtrack; “The Carol Burnett Show” aired its series finale and the average cost of a gallon of unleaded gas was only 65-71 cents. It was also the last time the Columbus Police Department had anyone in its reserve program.

So, it’s no surprise the CPD reserve program was recently called a bit “archaic” by Columbus Police Chief Charles Sherer.

During its Monday, July 17th, 2023, meeting, the Columbus City Council seemed on board with the police chief’s request to amend City Code to eliminate the reserve police force and establish a part-time officer unit. So much so, the Council voted unanimously to leapfrog three ordinance reads and fast-track approval, which is allowed per State statute. The ordinance will take effect 15 days after the meeting, so Aug. 1, 2023. [Watch the 'Council Minute video with Mayor Jim Bulkley recapping the entire Columbus City Council meeting by clicking here.]

Sherer explained to the Council that hiring certified part-time officers has a lot of upside, noting they can work by themselves and perform all the functions and duties of a regular officer without having to work under their umbrella. A reserve officer cannot really function on his or her own because they don’t have decision-making ability, he said. The chief noted part-time officers can also be used to fill shifts or provide transports, among other things.

Sherer, who noted the suggested plan was recommended by the director of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, told the Council the target candidates for part-time officers are those who have recently retired from the department because they already have uniforms and are familiar with CPD training and systems. There is already interest in coming on in a part-time capacity from at least one recently retired officer, he added.

Sherer said he isn't opposed to hiring part-time officers that have not already worked for CPD, but like those who are, they would be “well-vetted” and go through all the necessary procedures. 

Part-time officers can work no more than 19 hours a week and at least 100 hours per year. Additionally, the chief noted, the City could use the funds allocated to the vacated full-time positions to work for part-time officers.

CPD as of July 18, 2023, has an authorized strength of 38 sworn, according to the police chief. Sherer said he’s currently short five officers on the street and has three spots to fill. 

But help could be on the way. Sherer has hired two officers currently in a trainee, wait status. Learn more about recent CPD hires Dustin Balesteri and Jayden French by clicking their names to take you to previously published stories. The City is continuing to search for the right candidates to fill the three remaining positions.

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