Ottumwa city council considers over-staffing, keeping more police on street

Ottumwa Police Cruiser (Chris Arbino/KTVO)

In an effort to keep Ottumwa’s Police Department fully staffed, city council members are exploring the possibility of over staffing their department.

Ottumwa’s budget is currently set to employ 42 full time police officers, but due to officers leaving the force for various reasons, that is rarely the case.

And although Ottumwa’s budget has been stretched thin going into the upcoming fiscal year, city council member Marc Roe says the city will be able to afford the over staffing, because more often than not, the department is not at full strength.

Police Chief Tom McAndrew is not authorized to hire any new officers until one leaves, which is often a long process, and the officers on the street are the ones that suffer by working longer hours to pick up the slack.

Roe says by over staffing the department, that will help keep the police department at 42 police officers on staff nearly year around.

“There are a couple other particular circumstances where there’s a quote-unquote head left in the budget with a salary but there’s no salary being filled. And again, the opposite side of that is the police department is short those positions, they don’t have those backup officers to be fully staffed,” Roe said.

City Administrator Andy Morris expressed concern to the council that a situation may arise where the city is paying for more than 42 officers, burdening an already tight budget even more.

But Chief McAndrew stated that the pattern of officers leaving over the years has left the police department in a constant struggle to fill in positions and said the proposal would be worth the gamble.

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