Tuesday evening, the city’s Personnel and Finance Committee gave the nod to Merrill Police administrators to institute the department’s first-ever Drug Investigator position.
However, contrary to previous discussions of creating an additional position, which stalled due to city financial limitations, Tuesday’s green light came on the heels of a proposed restructuring of the department’s personnel organization.
“Ken’s (Police Chief Neff) retirement, would normally trigger upward movement with department personnel,” explained Administrative Captain and Neff’s successor Corey Bennett. “The idea here would be to create two patrol captain positions rather than fill the Administrative Captain position. We would then use the vacant Administrative Captain position to create a Drug Investigator position.”
As Bennett further explained, the two current day-shift Lieutenant positions held by Lieutenants Dale Bacher and Greg Hartwig, both with over 25 years of experience on the department, would be elevated to the Patrol Captain positions with a slight pay increase and additional responsibilities.
The investigator position would then be filled via promotion from within the department. The position would also entail a pay increase, the amount of which depending on the officer selected. Upon passage of the motion, a provision was added of the position beginning on a 1-year trial basis.
If at any point prior to next December the position becomes problematic or proves ineffective, the re-structuring would revert back to its present from and an Administrative Captain would be appointed.
The new full-time Drug Investigator position will go into effect on March 13.
*These estimates are based upon current (2016) salaries for the non-union positions for an entire year. The savings would be less in 2017 as any change wouldn’t be effective until March 13, 2017. Additionally, it is expected that the promoted Patrol Captains would be likely to slot into the pay grid above their current Lieutenant compensation but possibly less than what is displayed in the columns to the right. The investigator position is contractually bound to compensation levels which will increase 1% at the beginning of next year and an additional 1% in June of 2017.