We just rang in 2013, but the Sioux Falls Police Department is already looking ahead to 2014.
The department briefed the City Council Wednesday, saying it expects to have at least a dozen police officers retire next year.
That number is double the normal amount of retirees as officers who would have retired in 2013 are waiting until 2014 to take advantage of a new pension health care stipend that goes into effect next year.
The higher number of retirees means a lot of planning for both the city and the police department.
Hiring new police officers is no short task.
"Training alone takes about eight months before an officer is out and on their own," said Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel.
That's why advance planning is needed to get 12 new officers ready when the other officers are ready to retire.
"We want to be able to keep this as smooth of transition as possible and along with that, keep our city safe," said Chief Barthel.
Training new officers also adds a lot of costs; each police officer costs the City of Sioux Falls about $80,000 a year.
"One of the challenges that we're going to have with this large number of people retiring at one time is you've got to pay the current employees while you're hiring and training the new ones," said City Council Member Greg Jamison.
But police officers retiring is an inevitable outcome every year.
"A police officer needs to have worked at least 25 years and be at least 50 years of age," said Chief Barthel.
A Sioux Falls police officer is only eligible to work at the department until age 60. That might seem early to some people, but the work of a police officer isn't your average job.
"Let's face it, the older you get, the less you want to get involved in a wrestling match, or arresting someone and the chances of becoming injured are much greater," said Chief Barthel.
But just because a police officer can retire at 50, doesn't mean they will.
"We're finding more and more that a lot of our officers aren't ready to go when they turn 50, 50 is frankly fairly young," said Chief Barthel.
So some officers will choose to stay on the force all the way through 60.
"I'm among those that are now eligible, but I have no plans to retire, I still love my job and enjoy doing what I'm doing and see no reason why I should retire this early," said Chief Barthel.
Barthel hopes the Police Department will be able to cover the extra cost of the officers in their current personal budget. Today's presentation to the City Council was simply a heads up that they might need a little extra in their budget later in the year to cover the extra costs.
During Wednesday's presentation to the City Council, Chief Barthel said the police department is already in a hiring phase. However, the selection process is quite extensive and can take several weeks before the department can start training new officers.
Friday, August 22 2014 4:53 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:53:07 GMT
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