Marion Police Chief asking for 20% More Force

posted by WMT News/KCRG-TV9 - 

MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Marion community is growing, and Police Chief Joe McHale fears crime could come with it.

That's why on Tuesday he laid out a five year plan to city council that would increase his staff by more than 20 percent.

McHale said he wants to add 10 sworn officers and 12 staff workers, like 911 operators. by 2024. But first he needs to convince the city council.

Rhonda Kaczinski says there are times during the week where she is the only person answering 911 calls. That makes things pretty hectic.

"I’m trying to answer the phone calls, you have people that show up in the lobby, so we handle the window customers as well as answering the radios," she said.

Kaczinski said having three people per shift would help speed up service. McHale wants two people answering 911 calls, and one supervisor on each shift. Extra staff also lets operators stay on calls longer.

"Whether it's a domestic where the caller feels safer on the phone, feels calmer, they want us to stay on the phone with them until emergency personnel arrives. If we are alone in here, we can't always necessarily do that," Kaczinski said.

McHale said the civilians would also do paperwork that sworn officers are handling currently.

"I can take that officer that I pay $70-80,000, and put them on the streets in better service to the community," he said.

With new development in Marion comes more traffic, so he wants to stay ahead of the projected growth.

"As this community grows you can expect that crime will come with it. You don't bring two hotels that have transient populations in them every day and expect your crime to remain the same. You can't bring in tens of thousands of tourist to Prospect Meadows for baseball tournaments and not expect nefarious things to occur," McHale said.

McHale has to convince council to budget the money to grow from 45 police officers to 55, plus twelve more people who would work in the department.

McHale wants to start hiring some of those officers as soon as next year. He introduced his plan to council Tuesday, and will have more presentations at future meetings. Council could decide on a motion to support the plan by the end of the year.

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