With budgets stretched to the limit, police departments are often forced to be more creative when it comes to getting more officers on the street. One local department has found a unique solution.
Most departments don't have the funds to simply hire more officers, so they often have to get creative when it comes to staffing.
In St. Joseph County, the Sheriff has found a way to get more officers on the beat without "courting" financial disaster, or jeopardizing courthouse security.
Dennis Dulcet has been working security at the St. Joseph County Courthouse since January of this year. A week prior to coming on board, he retired from the St. Joseph County Police Department after 38 years, primarily pulling road patrol duty.
“We all get along, we know how to do the job,” says Dennis Dulcet a Courthouse Security Officer. “Most of us, the part timers and the full timers here, we were all supervisors, or most of us were supervisors at one time, so we know the job has to get done, we know how to do the job.”
He's among a growing number of retired police officers working courthouse detail.
“I would like to civilianize that with retired officers with all of the courthouse division, except for supervision staff,” explains Sheriff Michael Grzegorek of the St. Joseph County Police Department.
In the last year, St. Joseph County Sheriff Mike Grzegorek has hired four full time and six part time Special Deputies to work courthouse security. All of them retired cops.
“Just the people we have hired already have impressed the judges,” says Sheriff Grzegorek. “They're very happy with the people there. I think the courthouse security is running better than before. They have all the same training that all of these other officers that are currently working do. They just spent 20 plus years doing that job and they're looking to supplement their income or their retirement so they're willing to work part time or even in a full time position and do that same job and they have law enforcement powers under me.”
They work for less money than the sworn officers they've replaced, but the biggest benefit?
“We have more officers on the street,” says Sheriff Grzegorek.
So far there are three more officers, not escorting criminals to court, but three officers taking criminals to jail.
“I hear it all the time,” says Sheriff Grzegorek. “People keep saying I’m seeing more and more County Officers out on the street. And while it’s been small at this point, obviously it's a long term goal to get all of those officers where they need to be because those jobs really can be filled by retired officers.”
Grezrgorek says the courthouse detail is just the start. He eventually wants to civilianize the transportation and civil divisions.
“Probably give me 18 more officers on the street or the Detective Bureau or those other units,” says Sheriff Grzegorek.
The other units Grzergorek is talking about includes the Family Violence Unit, Metro Homicide, the Warrants Division to name a few.