CLOVERDALE -- An already small Cloverdale police force could get even smaller based on an ordinance passed by the town council Tuesday night.
Ordinance 2008-1, outlined in a previous BannerGraphic report, was passed unanimously during a special session Tuesday evening.
The ordinance, authored by Town Attorney Alan Yackey, essentially outlines the scope of authority for Town Marshall Don Pearson.
The document contains five major provisions, three of which will take effect immediately, and two which will go into effect on March 1.
Pearson now has the authorization to hire deputies and reserve officers with the advice and consent of the Town Council. Furthermore Pearson is in control of the officers with regard to outside employment. Pearson has the immediate authorization to hire up to 10 reserve officers. It is specified in the ordinance that reserves are to be ordered not to exercise their authority when not on official duty.
On March 1, Pearson will experience a reduction in force of one deputy. The ordinance specifies two deputy officers; three are currently employed.
Pearson, in a telephone interview with the BannerGraphic conducted shortly after the meeting's conclusion, said that the reduction in force wasn't a surprise to him. "I knew that it was a strong possibility," stated Pearson.
When asked what the public's perception might be regarding the loss of one of his officers, Pearson was quick to point out that his reserve staff would more than make up for the loss. "I have as many as seven people who are very qualified interested (in the reserve positions)," he said.
Pearson clarified with the council what restrictions would be placed upon him with regard to his decision making process when reducing his force. The council informed him that issues of seniority need not factor into his decision.
Pearson stressed that he would communicate closely with the council as he makes his decision. "I plan to interview everyone," Pearson stated. He went on to say that he would seek the advice and approval of the council before the final decision is made.
"I want us all on the same page," he said. "This is my second go around in this position ... I consider this my chance for redemption."
The final facet of the ordinance concerns personal use of department vehicles. Beginning in March, department employees must live in Cloverdale to be eligible to benefit from take-home vehicle privileges. The vehicles are not to be used other than in Putnam or one of its contiguous counties, and total monthly mileage may not exceed 3,500 miles.
It was clarified, after an inquiry from a member of the public, that all fuel costs, whether for business or personal use, would be absorbed by the department.