Commonwealth Journal

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April 26, 2013

Acting police chief: ‘We’re worn out’


Somerset —

“We don’t have people to carry out the program, we’re so short-staffed right now,” Nelson said. 
Nelson said something has to be done to help keep officers with the department — and he had just the idea for it. 
Nelson said he and Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler spoke about the issue and decided that a “restructuring” of the department’s positions may be the best option. Nelson, who has served as acting police chief for around six years, said the best way to give his officers much-needed money is to eliminate the assistant chief’s position altogether.
That would entail placing Nelson in either the police chief’s position — something that has been the topic of much debate over the years — or in another position. 
Nelson was named acting chief after a number of individuals were promoted to the position and then resigned amid a tumultuous political climate within the city. Councilors have been reluctant in recent years to approve Nelson as police chief, instead choosing to let him serve as acting police chief. The issue was most recently brought up in July, when, according to an agenda for a city council meeting, Girdler intended to ask that city councilors approve placing Nelson in the official position of police chief. That plan was scrapped, however, and the issue was not brought up during the July 9 meeting. 
“The chief of police is not a good job, and it’s been dirtied up over the years,” Nelson told the council on Monday. “If you do away with the assistant chief position you can put me as whatever you want and divide the rest of this money up between my men.” 
Scrapping the assistant chief position would free up around $50,000 for the department, according to Nelson. With benefits included, it would amount to around $75,000. Nelson said those officers who don’t receive promotions could see a bump of around $1,500 on top of an already-budgeted $1,000 raise. He said those who receive promotions would see an increase of around $3,500 total. 

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