Wheeling Police Chief Looking for Creative Ways to Fill Positions
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said he is thinking outside the box when it comes to filling holes left by budget cuts.
Now that the department is down 11 officers, Schwertfeger has been thinking of creative ways to fight back. "In order to be proactive and to make an impact, you need specialized units and you need to have fresh staff to proactively address those issues," Schwertfeger said. He said the department has had to take a reactive approach, but it is hard to prioritize in difficult situations.
"You know it's kind of like the baby bird in a nest. Everyone wants fed, and you know we're trying to do that and it's just been a struggle," he said.
Schwertfeger proposed a solution to City Manager Bob Herron that would allow the department to get more civilian employees to free up officers. He said most modern police agencies have a civilian working the front desk and answering phones, and by doing that in Wheeling, he would be able to free up an officer.
Herron said he is looking at the compromise and considering the options along with other proposals to the budget revisions. Herron said he thinks Schwertfeger's idea sounds affordable.
While his officers are working stressful shifts, Schwertfeger applauds them for their attitude. "I'm proud of the efforts that the men and women of the police dept are trying to make, but I also know it's been very difficult for them in working doubles and trying to be a family. You know, a family oriented person, it's a struggle."
There are still many factors that council members will need to review and consider, but Herron said he hopes to hold a comprehensive discussion by the end of the month.