Retirement opens door for new police sergeant

FLINT TWP. — In just a few weeks, a new officer in the Flint Township Police Department will be answering to the title of sergeant.

A request from Police Chief George Sippert to select an eligible candidate from the civil service list was approved Monday night by the township Board of Trustees

Lt. Robert Batinkoff, who sat in for Sippert at the meeting, said the chief hopes to have a new sergeant in place and ready to go by June 27 for a seamless transition upon the retirement of Sgt. Randy Kimes.

With Kimes retirement, the roster of sergeants would drop below five – a critical number for maintaining effective supervision in the department, Sippert said in a written letter to the board.

He said he approached the board’s personnel committee about the imminent need to maintain the necessary supervision level in the department by promoting a patrol officer to the rank of sergeant.

Over the past five years, Sippert said he has reduced the number of supervisory officers – sergeants and lieutenants – in order to control costs. At its height, the department had four lieutenants but that number has now been reduced to two. The high point of eight for sergeants has been reduced to five as of 2012.

Additionally, since January 1,2010, the department has lost more than 350 years of police experience, Sippert said. As a result of several retirements and one death in the past three years, more than 60 percent of the department’s patrol officers have less than five years experience.

“For these young officers, positive leadership and supervision is vital,’’ Sippert said.

Not only are supervisory officers accountable for the actions of subordinates, they are required to take charge during critical incidents and also play a crucial role in performance and evaluation, Sippert said,

Five sergeants are the minimum number needed to provide first-line supervision around-the-clock, he said.

On-duty supervisors often are required by policies and procedures to respond and investigate incidents in which officers have used their weapons and/or restraints to control violent individuals. Sippert provided to the board a full list of other job duties supervisors perform.

The new sergeant will replace Kimes, who has been with the department since June 1988, and was himself promoted to sergeant in April of last year. Prior to his promotion, Kimes served for 12 years as a police detective and was instrumental in the capture in 2010 of now convicted serial killer Elias Abuelazam.

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