Somerset’s acting police chief is asking city officials to consider restructuring the department’s pay and classification plan to help assuage retainment problems.
“Guys, your police department’s tired,” said Somerset Police Department Acting Police Chief Doug Nelson. “We’re tired and we’re worn out.”
Nelson appeared before Somerset City Council Monday during a public budget workshop session. Nelson said his department is overworked and underpaid — and he said he’s losing “good men” to other agencies that can pay more.
“Your police department needs some money, and that’s why you keep losing people,” Nelson said. “You lost two (officers) to Kentucky State Police this year, and they will take two to four from you next time.
“You shouldn’t be mad about that because your guys are that good,” Nelson added.
Nelson said that, as of Monday, the department was lacking five officers to be at full staff. Nelson said the department currently has four officers at the academy — a grueling 21-week program that prepares would-be officers for their careers. After they graduate from the academy, new officers must accompany a veteran officer for a certain amount of time before hitting the streets on their own.
Nelson said the department has reached out in an attempt to hire more officers, but he said that has not been fruitful.
“I tested 50 people for jobs in the last two months and we ended up with zero that could pass the background check,” Nelson said.
Nelson said a number of factors have added to SPD’s problems. He said a recent annexation by the city — in which more than 40 miles of roadways surrounding Somerset were taken in — has upped SPD’s call volume considerably. Nelson said his department has been working an average of 125 accidents each month, thanks to the additional roadways that have fallen under SPD’s jurisdiction.