MONMOUTH — The Monmouth City Council on Sept. 1 unanimously approved a temporary “over hire” for the police department.

“The police department currently has a vacancy  that it has been working to fill over the past four to six months,” Chad Olsen, interim city manager told councilors. “I believe it was pre-COVID when it happened. Everything slowed down because of COVID. So we’re getting to the end of the recruitment period. There’s two candidates that he has that he’s hoping are really great candidates.”

There are two candidates that Monmouth Police Chief Darrell Tallan hopes are “great candidates,” Olsen said.

“I approached Darrell with the thought about over hiring for that position, on a temporary basis,” Olsen said. “I’ll say straight up, there is no effort to increase the number of approved and authorized positions in the department. This is strictly an issue to provide some continuity during a period.”

MPD is anticipating two more vacancies after Jan. 21.

The benefits of hiring both candidates are “assuring a stable service level with the department,” Olsen said. “You’ll save all of the costs and efforts related to a second or third hiring process.”

It’s an opportunity to be pro-active, Olsen said.

This would be an opportunity to be pro active.

“Two things that I want to say: I recognize that the budget committee had this discussion about the possibility of increasing the allocation of officers by one and staying within the existing budget level. This is not that,” Olsen said.

Olsen reiterated a few times that this was not an effort to subvert the budget committee’s decision.

This would not carry forward to another year, Mayor Cec Koontz said.

“So we would over hire and allow it to adjust, through attrition to its normal level,” Olsen said. “If there is a battle to be fought over an additional officer — an increase in the allocation — certainly that will be during next year’s budget committee meeting.”

It’s not an effort to do that, he said.

“I am sensitive to the fact of the discussion the budget committee had,” Olsen said. “I am sensitive to the fact there may be an appearance that some on the budget committee may see this as an effort to go around what the budget committee discussion was and all I can say is, that’s not this. This is just a temporary move to make sure we have continuity in the department and take advantage of two good candidates that come out of the process in lieu of sometimes you just may not get any that come out of the process.”

Olsen said he had Finance Director Janet Chenard take a look at what hiring both candidates would like, financially.

“As we discussed during the budget, there’s a vacancy that’s been in place since July 1,” Olsen said. “So there’s whatever savings we will experience until a person is hired, will be on the books and then whatever happens when a person leaves. So in talking with the finance director, she feels pretty confident that it would be a wash. I don’t think I can say that with 100 percent certainty because circumstances will be what they are. The sooner a person leaves, the less that may appear. It’s going to be fluid.”

Councilor Byron Shinkle said this type of solution is not unprecedented.

“If you recall we did a similar thing with a lineman,” Shinkle said. “We were having a retiring lineman and since the apprenticeship takes so long we over hired a position. That being said we had a real deadline on when that transition was going to take place.”

He asked how they can be sure the resignation and retirement will happen on the anticipated timeline and what the solution is if they don’t.

“Those are good questions and as city manager Olsen said earlier, there’s no 100 percent guarantee,” Tallan said.

He’s had discussions with both employees, he said, and is pretty positive the person set to retire, will.

“That’s the one position we would have in the over hire,” Tallan said.

If the other person leaves, the department will be down a person.

“I really hope that the person that wants to change careers, changes their mind and stays because that would keep us at the 14 sworn allocation that we have currently authorized,” Tallan said.

Councilor Chris Lopez said he initially had some reservations about over hiring.

“I appreciate the time that Chad, that you’ve spent detailing how this process would look and kind of the impetus behind it,” Lopez said.

Lopez asked Tallan to discuss the hiring process, “why it’s been difficult in the past and what makes this really the opportunity that it is.”

A job posting could be open anywhere from three to six weeks, Tallan said.

“Then we do our pre-screening,” he said. “That could take anywhere from a week to two weeks.”

The interview process takes at least two to three weeks, because of scheduling.

“We try to do that at one particular time because we have to get an interview panel together that can be here to interview everyone on the same date or sometimes consecutive days,” Tallan said.

From there, the top candidates are selected and moved into the background check phase.

“That can be tough because depending where our candidates come from, they’ve got to fill out a pretty extensive background packet, turn that packet in and I have a professional background investigator that does our backgrounds for us,” Tallan said..

That can take from four to six weeks, he said.

“If they’re successful through the background phase, we then have to schedule a psychological exam,” Tallan said.

This is the step both candidates he hopes to hire were at as of last week.

“When they complete the medical, I have them come in for one last executive interview with myself and the lieutenant,” Tallan said. “We’ve invested quite a bit of money into them already and we’re going to invest quite a bit more into them once we send them to the academy. We need to know they’re committed to staying here and they’re a good fit for the city of Monmouth.”

Once a candidate is hired, they go through a 16-week basic police academy and the 16 to 18 weeks of field training.

“This took a little bit longer because of COVID, but we are five months into it,” Tallan said of the current recruitment process. “Generally, we try to do it in about three to four months, which is why the city manager and I have been talking about (how) this is a great opportunity right now for us to try to take advantage of a situation that doesn’t normally occur and try to avoid another five to six month process.”

Koontz said there was a consensus from the council to go forward with the hiring of both candidates.

“I honestly believe that from a management perspective this is a good decision,” Olsen said.

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