Tuesday, December 09, 2008

To Hire Or Not To Hire: Cincinnati And Laid-Off HCSO Deputies

City Council is currently considering hiring some of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies that are being laid off due to HamCo budget cuts. (The Enquirer notes this development towards the end of this article.) It's an excellent idea. Those deputies, in many instances, would be ready to hit the streets pretty rapidly. But Council should take heed of the following:
  • Cincinnati PD currently has a "recruit class" nearly finished with its Academy training. (The bright, shiny almost-officers were touring the courthouse today.) HCSO deputies should not be hired in lieu of these people, for two reasons. First, the City has already spent considerable funds in training this recruit class; discarding them is throwing that money away. Second, when the City takes on a recruit class, it makes an implicit commitment that jobs await those who successfully complete their training. Yes, sudden budgetary concerns could justify failing to hire a recruit class, but it would be less-than-honorable for the City to abandon its own recruits in favor of HCSO deputies.
  • Many of the laid-off deputies will be corrections officers, not patrol officers. The City needs to make sure that these officers receive whatever additional training is needed (likely something well short of Academy graduation) to make these officers street-ready. There's a big difference between guarding Queensgate and patrolling a neighborhood (and residents generally don't like being treated as inmates.)
  • The City should make sure that hiring laid-off deputies is at least cost-neutral with regards to, if not less expensive than, bringing in a new recruit class (again, after the current class has been hired). The City should save money due to the decreased amount of training these new officers would need, compared with a fresh recruit. But (and I don't know the answer to this) because some of these soon-to-be-former deputies would come in with considerable experience, the CBA with the FOP might call for them to receive higher pay. If the City is to hire these deputies, individual exceptions to the CBA should be negotiated to make sure the City isn't breaking its own budget.
Assuming these (relatively minor) concerns can be addressed, hiring HCSO deputies to be City police officers is a commonsense solution that benefits everyone. And it should be noted: as a group, HCSO deputies tend to be among the most professional (and physically fit) law enforcement officers in our community.

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