Winnebago Police Department is hoping to solve at least one problem area of its budget this year.
“I have been trying get an increase in overtime dollars every year since I have been here,” says Police Chief Eric Olson, who have been with the department for more than five years.
City Council members have agreed to increase the department overtime budget from $6,000 to $11,000 this year.
At the council’s Dec. 10 meeting, City Administrator Jake Skluzacek reported that the department had already spent $15,000 on overtime.
The amount of overtime hours logged in the past three years has gone up every year. In 2017, officers totaled nearly 352 hours; nearly 370 in 2018; and almost 560 this year.
“Narcotics and narcotic search warrants have gone up,” says Olson. “This isn’t to say that Winnebago has a worse problem than in past years, it means our investigations have come together and we have acted on information given to us.”
Olson says in some cases it could take up to a year to gather enough information to obtain a search warrant for probable cause that a crime may have been committed.
Of all the types of investigations conducted, says Olson, DWI cases are not only time-consuming but require immediate attention.
“A report has to be done and completed the following day,” he says. “Instead, our officers could be out in the community doing their jobs.”
Currently, the department has three full-time officers and six listed on its part-time roster.
Olson says he would like to have another full-time officer because finding help to cover shifts, if needed, is getting difficult.
“Part-time help is getting harder to find,” he says. “They are not always available to work because they have other full-time jobs.”
In addition to solving crimes and responding to calls from citizens, officers can patrol as many as 30 miles in an eight-hour shift. During the night shift of 11 ½ hours, the amount can be up to 80 miles.