A call for sergeants

FLINT TWP. — Two township police patrol officers are on the verge of being promoted to sergeant.

Police Chief George Sippert has asked township trustees to formally request that the

Flint Township Civil Service Commission provides names of two eligible candidates for promotion to police sergeant.

Chief Sippert said that he recently discussed the need for first-line supervision with members of the personnel committee and the need to plan for the future.

Since 2010, the police department has lost almost 400 years of police experience due to retirements, he said, adding that he expects that trend to continue.

For decades, the police department has had a development process in place to train future administrators but it is a long-term commitment and not something that is accomplished in a few weeks or months, he said.

Due to budget constraints over the past ten years, the number of supervisory officers (sergeants) has been reduced to the bare minimum to cut costs, Chief Sippert said.

“In 2004, when I was appointed Chief, the department employed eight sergeants,” he said ”That number has been reduced by forty-five percent from its high water mark of eight to currently five, the bare minimum required to maintain first line supervision.”

Supervisory officers are responsible for the performance of their squads and are held accountable for the actions of their subordinates Not only do they play a crucial role in performance evaluation but also are often required to take charge and provide leadership in critical incidents, he said.

With recruitment of new officers underway, it is vital to develop positive leadership and direct supervision.

Current low levels of supervisory officers makes it difficult, or impossible for sergeants to attend valuable “staff and command” training which can run ten to eleven weeks, he said.

When supervisory officers are absent due to vacation, sick leave or training time, it is difficult to replace them and almost always results in overtime costs.

With the retirement last week of Lt. Robert Battinkoff, the problem has been exacerbated.

Funding for two new sergeant positions is already available in the 2015 Police Budget, Chief Sippert said. The promotions will provide flexibility in scheduling to allow current supervisory personnel to attend vital leadership training courses, he said.

Chief Sippert also said it will take longer to replace Lt. Battinkoff because there is not currently a civil service list of eligible candidates for lieutenants. After the testing process is completed, he said he would be back to request a replacement for Battinkoff.

But that does not affect the promotion of two sergeants being requested now, he said.

Township Supervisor Karyn MIller provided a written letter to the Civil Service commission asking for a certified list of the two highest scoring candidates eligible for promotion to police sergeant.

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