Amid an already depleted patrol staff slow to be filled due to a drawn-out hiring process, Calexico Police Chief Gonzalo Gerardo wants to temporarily shelve one patrol officer or sergeant position and promote from within for another lieutenant.
Further, the city’s top cop stated the move to hire from among his qualified ranks could save the city’s general fund around $50,000 in salary and benefits by eliminating overtime with the addition of a lieutenant.
The promotion would fill a vacant but unfunded position that would become an exempt employee—one that does not earn overtime, according to the chief’s report to the Calexico City Council.
The council was expected to consider the matter at its Nov. 6 meeting, which occurred past this newspaper’s deadline.
In addition to the personnel change, the council was to be asked to authorize testing for the lieutenant post at a cost not to exceed $15,000 pending the testing company’s quote, the report states.
Gerardo’s proposed move hinges on whether he has a qualified officer among his ranks who can pass the lieutenant’s exam. If not, he won’t look to hire from outside the department and will instead leave the lieutenant position unfunded and vacant, the report states.
Gerardo said during an interview Nov. 3 the reason he needs to stay in house is because the savings on overtime would not be realized if he were to add a lieutenant from outside the department and not give up one of the sergeant or officer positions.
Gerardo said he has five open but funded officer positions available through the 2019 calendar year, and this move would see one of those open positions frozen.
He filled two other open officer positions in September. Gerardo said he is slow to fill the open spots because recruiting, along with intensive background checks, take the department up to several months to get new officers in place. It takes even more time to get those officers through the field-training phase.
Previously, the chief has not discussed specific numbers of patrol officers on the streets due to concerns about safety.
Meanwhile, the chief explained the department’s chain of command has the chief at the top, with two lieutenants beneath him: one overseeing operations and another overseeing support services. Gerardo and the operations lieutenant is now working extra duties to make up for the vacant support-services position.
Operations oversees patrol staff and support services oversees all non-sworn personnel and administrative issues, including monitoring grants.
Gerardo reported to the council the move would be considered an internal promotion.
Current sergeants and officers who hold a supervisory California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training certificate, or an officer with a bachelor’s degree or higher and an Advanced POST certificate, would be eligible to apply for lieutenant, according to the chief. Gerardo said he does have several staff members with these qualifications.
If the promotion is successful, Gerardo would request at a later date the police officer position be removed from the current budget “to keep in line with the salary savings,” he reported. Requesting to reopen or add a police officer position would be discussed for the fiscal 2020-21 budget cycle, he stated in his report.