Willows police adding three new officers
The Willows Police Department expects to have at least three new police officers on the streets by May.
The City Council agreed Tuesday to allow Acting Police Chief Jason Dahl to fill the position previously frozen pending the passage of Proposition 30.
The position was frozen well into the recruitment process in August after Gov. Jerry Brown threatened to pull state Supplement Law Enforcement Services funding if Proposition 30 failed in the Nov. 6 election, officials said.
Dahl is already in the process of filling one grant-funded position — which will be a military veteran — and another position vacated by Officer Richard Gridley, who left in November for a job with California State University in Chico.
"This is really going to help out a lot," said Dahl, following Tuesday's special mid-year budget review.
An officer out on medical leave is also expected back in April, he said.
Although Dahl said the patrol help from the Glenn County Sheriff's Department has worked out well for the understaffed department and the public, the $20,000 a month cost in overtime is far more that what the Police Department had projected in early discussions.
In August, when the city froze the police officer position, then-Police Chief Bill Spears had anticipated filling in on patrol, Dahl said.
Spears, however, retired Dec. 31 after the City Council opted to not renew his contract to save $83,000 during the second half of the budget cycle, officials said.
Spears is now a member of the City Council, which voted 5-0 on Tuesday to allow Dahl to replace Officer Darren Brown, who left in February 2012 for a job in Butte County.
Finance Director Tim Salisbury, who presented the mid-year budget, said the projected savings from all the vacant positions and Spears' retirement will exceed the additional costs in the police department by about $104,000 this year.
The City Council, however, will address filling the police chief position — either by recruiting for a new chief or by making Dahl permanent — when the council starts working on next year's budget, said City Manager Steve Holsinger.
"There has been no real discussion or plan," Holsinger said Tuesday. "Right now we are simply complying with the (legal) requirements."
Holsinger said having Dahl serve as an interim police chief fulfills the Police Officer Standards and Training, but the city is required to address the vacancy.
The City Council will likely begin the process in March, he said.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.