Antioch to hire 13 more Police Officers to fill vacancies

Publisher’s Note: We apologize for the delay in posting this article. We thought it had been posted last month. But, due to our main computer’s hard drive going down, it wasn’t. However it was published in the October print edition of the Herald.

By James Ott

The City of Antioch currently has 13 vacant police officer positions that they hope to fill in the next three to six months. That will leave 22 positions.

According to Finance Director Dawn Merchant, in a report at the September 11, 2012 meeting, there are currently eight vacancies that the city has funded and with the five COPS grant positions that are open that’s a total of 13 vacancies the city needs to fill.

The COPS grant awarded the city $1.5 million in moneys to hire five new officers.

It requires a $750,000 match by the Antioch over the life of the grant.

The grant will only fund 67.7 percent of an officer’s cost because it only covers the officer’s base salary, PERS retirement cost, workers compensation, Medicare and a cafeteria plan. The city will have to fund the remaining 32.3 percent of the officers cost.

An entry level officer costs about $126,529 a year by the city’s estimate. So Antioch will have to pay roughly $40,869 per hire. That amount though, does not include other likely expenses such as any overtime pay or things like educational incentives or senior officer pay.

According to a staff report the price tag of those entry level officers could be a little higher. When some of those likely additional costs are included those same hires are more likely to run $130,945 to $138,814 per year.

So the city’s estimated one-year cost for the five COPS funded officers would be $654,770 to $694,070 of which $428,300 will be covered by the grant money. The city will then have to pay $226,470 to $265,770 per year to cover the five new hires.

Those estimates however, do not include any overtime pay and it assumes the new hires will be entry level, or “Step A,” officers with a base salary of $76,778 a year. An officer hired at “Step C” for example, would have a base salary of $87,000 per year and the city would have to fund the difference.

Also, “Step A” base salaries are set to increase by 3 percent in March of next year to about $78,968.

Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando said that he was looking to potentially hire former U.S. service men and woman to fill the remaining vacant positions.

Cantando said that about 95 people applied for the beginning of the hiring process. Of those, 45 passed the oral boards and 28 are on the eligibility list and several of those are former military.

The Police Chief said that his hiring “wish list” would have Community Service Officers, (CSO’s), at the top but that he also needs help with clerical, dispatch and evidence positions.

As a result of those needs, Chief Cantando said he is looking to hire six CSO’s and potentially put two in evidence, three or four in the jail and perhaps one to provide for code enforcement if needed.

Despite the upcoming new hires, Antioch may be back to square one next year if Cantando’s attrition forecast is accurate.

During questioning by the city council, Cantando said that he expects to lose two managers and 7 officers this upcoming year not counting any losses from job hazards or officers moving on to a different city.Councilman Brian Kalinowski said that hiring more officers is the best way to fight crime, referencing the July police report that showed arrest rates were down some 20 percent.

At the end of the day it’s about taking those that break the law off to jail,” he said.

Also at the Meeting:

At the beginning of the meeting and on the eleven-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Father Robert of Saint Ignatius Parish blessed the city and remembered those that were lost in the 9/11 attacks and in the war on terror. 2,976 people from 93 nations lost their lives on that day in 2001.

While Father Robert paused to remember those lost and the horror that accompanied that day eleven years ago, his prayer was a prayer for peace, forgiveness and healing.

Today we pause once again to remember that moment of horror and to remember those that were left scarred by those terrible events… Our prayer today is that we will have the ability to forgive those who caused so much trauma and that we find release in that forgiveness… May we move from suffering to hope, from brokenness to wholeness, from anxiety to courage.”

The Council voted in three applicants to fill the remaining vacant terms on the Board of Administrative Appeals. Those residents are Deborah Simpson, Andrew Schleder and Mike Schneider. The Board hears appeals from residents on matters such as code enforcement.

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