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Cordele City Commission meets on strategic planning

CORDELE — On the request of Cordele City Commissioner Royce Reeves, Cordele Police Chief Rob Rodriguez came before the commission to discuss his strategy for the department.

According to Rodriguez, in his five-year strategic plan he wanted to develop a more represented police force and increase the number of allocated officers.

Currently, Cordele’s Police Department has 43 officers, but will be down to 42 in the coming months with the transfer of an officer.

The police chief did an analysis on numbers from 2016 and reported officers responded to a total of 18,018 calls. He said there is a formula that shows how many officers should be staffed in each shift.

The results? Cordele is understaffed. At this point in time there is around six officers working at each shift. Rodriguez said at the population that Cordele has and the amount of calls responded to, there should be nine officers working each shift.

So to answer the question on how to address this issue, the answer is simple right? Just add more officers. Wrong.

Looking deeper into it things are so simple. Each officer costs on average $53,049 with salary and benefits. Add the cost of training, a police vehicle and equipment needed to perform their jobs and the cost skyrockets to right at $98,000.

Chief Rodriguez has said that a total of 12 officers would fully staff the department, so by doing the math it comes to a total cost of $1,176,000 per year.

As a way to begin the process of staffing the department, the police chief has applied for a grant that would pay for two additional officers for a term of three years before the city would incur the costs.

City manager Edward Beach said that the budget currently is tight as it is. Rodriguez says he plans on revisiting the allocation of funds in next years budget to see if they can increase the amount of officers in the department.

Beach estimated in order to incur an expense of $300,000 for a trio of officers, they would have to raise taxes by more than a million dollars on taxpayers.