Salisbury Police introduce restructuring plans

Salisbury City Council members agreed to move forward with a restructuring plan for the Police Department with the goal of better efficiency, budget savings and more emphasis on community policing.

The department will test the plan over the next year, Col. Dave Meienschein said during a Monday evening work session.

Council members said they particularly liked the focus on increased community policing.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Councilwoman Michelle Gregory.

The recent retirement of Maj. Scott Kolb allowed the department to realign and eliminate the major’s position, said Chief Barbara Duncan.

Under the new plan, the department will go from seven to eight sergeants and seven to nine corporals. The department will retain one Chief, one Assistant Chief, two Captains and six Lieutenants.

By removing the position of major, the department will be able to fund the salary of an additional police officer. The restructuring would result in a savings of $39,244 while still retaining the total number of authorized personnel at 103, Meienschein said.

The Assistant Chief would assume additional duties connected to the command of the Administrative Division of the department.

By adding a Sergeant and two Corporals, Lieutenants assigned to patrol function would no longer be primarily assigned to desk duties.

Duncan said the goal is to provide improved leadership development, efficiency of customer service and a continued commitment to community policing, with more opportunities to build relationships with the community.

The restructuring will allow for the development of patrol squad lieutenants who will assume additional areas of upper administrative responsibility within the department. They also will be asked to focus on the development of Sergeants who will be functioning as squad commanders.

The additional Sergeant will provide each of the four patrol squads with a Sergeant as a squad commander. The addition of two Corporals will provide each of the four squads with two Corporals.

The council will still need to vote on the new plan at an upcoming meeting.

Changes summarized:

• The proposed restructure will result is a net salary and fringe savings of approximately

$120,982.42. The SPD could use some of this savings to fill with a recruit police officer position and still realize a savings of approximately $39,244.28.

By converting the Major position to a police officer does not affect total number of authorized personnel, which will remain at 103, of which seven are currently frozen.

• The Assistant Chief would assume additional duties connected to the command of the Administrative Division of the SPD.

• One additional position at the rank of Sergeant is required.

• Two additional positions at the rank of Corporal are required.

• Lieutenants assigned to patrol function would no longer be primarily assigned to desk duties.

• Improved leadership development and efficiency of customer service.

• Continued commitment to community policing, with more opportunities to build relationships with the community.

Council members also are expected in the near future to appoint members to the city’s new Criminal Justice Reform Task Force.

In June, the city received 215 applications for the 15-member task force and since then a selection committee has been narrowing down the list.

The role of the task force will be to propose city, county and state institutional changes to law, policy and procedure. It comes in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers that has spurred weeks of demonstrations across the country and calls for reforms to police departments.

Salisbury’s task force is one of several initiatives outlined by Duncan and Mayor Jake Day in March as part of an effort to ensure transparency and boost public confidence in the police department that has been rocked by several internal investigations.

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