The is currently at the same staffing level as it was in 1998 — 36 sworn officers.
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said he is happy that since the 2012 budget was passed with additional funds for two new officers, his department will be closer to adequate staffing levels.
"When I first started here we had 36 sworn officers; this number includes me, the DARE officer, the SRO, the detectives, the supervisors and the patrol officers. In the first four years I was here we were able to hire eight additional officers for a total of 44," the chief said. "This was the highest number of officers we have had."
Right now, before two more officers are hired, the department has 36 sworn officers — the same amount it had 14 years ago.
"Due to the recession I have lost all eight of those officers so we are now down again," Dirker said.
According to Finance Director John Baranek, $116,000 was added to the police department's personnel budget in 2012 for the two new hires.
Mayor Sara Drew said she hopes to hire the two officers as soon as possible. Because of an ongoing hiring freeze, before the officers can begin working, their jobs must be approved by City Council.
On top of the two new employees budgeted in this year, the police department plans to go after grants to help hire even more officers.
Dirker said the department plans to "apply for a COPS Grant for two additional officers. These are very important steps toward bringing the department up to an adequate level of staffing."
So What's Adequate?
The chief said determining the number of officers needed to adequately staff a police department is a "complex undertaking."
"Many departments compare their staffing levels to cities with similar populations, but this is not a scientifically valid approach due to the many variables that are relative to each city such as: commercials areas, major thoroughfares running through the city, number of violent crimes per thousand population, etc.," said Dirker. "We will be working on coming up with a realistic number later this year as we are looking for a valid method of assessing our staffing needs."