By Moses Leos III
Three new sworn patrol officers and a pair of new administrative positions highlight the Kyle Police Department’s $5.6 million budget expenditure for fiscal year 2014-15.
It’s all done with a singular purpose in mind – improving service at the initial response level.
“Each of the additional items in the budget, whether it be personnel or equipment, will help us provide better customers service to our citizens and visitors,” Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said.
Kyle’s three new sworn positions are comprised of two new officers and a patrol lieutenant.
According to Barnett, the lieutenant position was “warranted,” based on the size of the department. Kyle has 55 sworn and non-sworn personnel.
He said the lieutenant position provides much needed oversight in improving efficiency and effectiveness.
The lieutenant is expected to organize and communicate with patrol officers and sergeants in day-to-day operations. The position, which Barnett branded as a mid-level supervisor, will oversee smaller problems that don’t make it to the captain or chief’s desk.
Captain Pedro Hernandez currently organizes the patrol division. Barnett said Hernandez oversees as many as ten sergeants, along with the other personnel that fall under his supervision.
Several Kyle citizens raised concerns that the lieutenant will be another office job, but Barnett put the kibosh on that, saying that person will be more hands on in the community.
Barnett said the person would be directly involved with improving operations at street level.
“This will not be the Monday to Friday office job,” Barnett said. “They are tasked with keeping in touch with the community … and line level officers to make sure that we are doing everything we can.”
Personnel-wise, Kyle Police Department is adding two new administrative positions, along with making Animal Control a full time position.
The increasing amount of paperwork, both internally and from the public, calls for the department to increase administrative staffing.
In order to catch up, the department asks other staffers to assist their front desk personnel.
“What was a position for three people changed a couple of years ago. In some ways we are going back to that level … clearly more work than two people can do,” Barnett said. “As the sworn police department of this agency grows, so has the paperwork.”
Increasing to full-time status is Kyle’s Animal Control officer position; it’s an increase from the 19 hours a week they had been scheduled.
Barnett said the public asked for an increased animal control presence on weekends and after hours. He said those are the times animal control ordinance violations take place.
“We are fortunate to get these new positions,” Barnett said. “We are thankful to add some uniformed personnel to the department. We are excited to get them.”
The department is also in line to receive $510,000 in new equipment and vehicles. That includes five new Chevy Tahoes. Barnett said they will “go a long way to updating our aging fleet.”
“That fleet with high miles has significantly impacted our budget, as we have had to pay for repairs and downtime for vehicles,” Barnett said.
Other equipment costs include improved and ergonomic furniture for the city’s dispatch unit. Safety was the primary concern as the furniture dispatch operators use is third-generation.
Department-issued handguns will also become a reality for Kyle PD. Fifty guns will be purchased, which eliminates the need for officers to buy their own handguns.
“We asked to do that for several years, but we never had the opportunity to have it funded,” Barnett said. “This year, [the city was]able to do that.”