Forte: KCPD's upcoming budget reveals staffing shortage - KCTV5

Forte: KCPD's upcoming budget reveals staffing shortage

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Police Chief Darryl Forte says the city's newly passed budget will have an impact on the police department that is in need of more money. (KCPD) Police Chief Darryl Forte says the city's newly passed budget will have an impact on the police department that is in need of more money. (KCPD)

Police Chief Darryl Forte says the city's newly passed budget will have an impact on the police department that is in need of more money.

Forte said in a bog post Monday that the police department has faced significant funding challenges in those couple of years and shared some cost-saving measures the department has undertaken in the past couple of years.

Forte said more than 90 percent of their budget went to personnel costs and has to eliminate 100 civilian and 60 law enforcement positions.

Another cost-saving move was a buy-out in 2015 that saved the department $1 million. There were also no raises given out last year.

"We were slated to purchase a little fewer than 80 vehicles last year to replace the ones with very high mileage and maintenance issues. We purchased fewer than 40 vehicles instead. We still had to pay to equip them all with everything from camera systems to radios, which can be almost as much as the cost of the vehicles, themselves," Forte added.

Forte said they also found a one-time funding source to pay for increased health insurance and ammunition costs.

He added that the police department supports the radio system for the entire city, which they take the cost for the fire and public works departments and any other government organization that has a radio.

"We also answer all incoming 911 calls. We forward them to fire department dispatchers if the call is medical in nature or a fire. Therefore, our department is the only one that pays for 911 call-takers," Forte said.

The police department answered nearly 1.2 million calls last year.

"We have cut a great deal of costs," Forte said. "And while we are doing our best to be as effective as possible with what we have, our data shows this is starting to have a negative impact."

There are currently 89 total vacancies spread out between the different divisions of the police department. In order to stay within their budget, those positions have been left open, Forte said.

Unlike other city departments, the police department is required by Missouri law to have a zero balance at the end of each fiscal year and cannot go over budget.

Forte said the police department offered a package to City Council to provide funding to hire 60 officers to fill some of the vacancies. The budget approved by the council will give the department the ability to hire 48 new officers. The average turnover per year is at 58 officers.

Forte said that vacancies will only be achieved through attrition only and that no layoffs are planned at the moment.

"To fund normal raises and health insurance increases at current staffing levels, our department needs $6 million more each year. However, we were $3 million short last year, so the next budget needed to go up by $9 million. With additional appropriations of just $5.2 million for fiscal year 2016-17, we essentially received a $3.8 million cut," he said.

Forte wants the public to know and understand the costs of running a department. By providing the upcoming budget, he addresses the shortfalls in staffing and how that could affect the department in the near future.

“Raises are crucial to retaining quality, trained personnel. I’ve seen too many fantastic department members leave for other departments or careers for financial reasons,” Forte said. “Our city loses their quality service, and our department loses all the money we invested in training them. It ends up costing much more than an annual cost of living increase.”

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