The money will be spent on employing about eight community service officers on a part-time basis until 2013, when the Minneapolis Police Department expects full-time positions will open up as officers retire.
Those officers are fully trained and the city has spent about $26,000 on each for college tuition and uniforms, according to Police Chief Tim Dolan.
Dolan’s request to hire the laid-off officers came before other department heads had the chance to submit their own proposals for spending the 2011 budget surplus.
The city’s chief financial officer, Kevin Carpenter, said in mid-February that he hadn’t quite finished tallying up 2011 budget numbers, but there is likely a “significant” surplus of dollars for the City Council to decide what to do with this year.
Carpenter told a city panel that he gave department heads until Feb. 17 to put in requests for unused funds, a few days after the Police Department request.
He said the City Council could also opt to put the unused money into reserves.
Police brass argued their request needed immediate attention because the laid-off community service officers are already applying to jobs with other municipal departments. A part-time job as a CSO through 2012 promises the young officers a job in 2013 and keeps them away from other departments, according to Assistant Chief Janeé Harteau.
“That’s a lot of investment walking out the door,” Dolan told the city’s Public Safety Civil Rights and Health Committee.
Further, the group is highly diverse: the Police Department would be able to hire from a pool that includes four Somali officers and three female officers, Harteau said.
Council President Barb Johnson said the pool of diverse candidates across all of government is slim, and it would be unwise to lose good prospects who are already in the city’s workforce pipeline.
The Police Department has been praised by the City Council in the past couple years for prudent spending. Carpenter said he had not yet tallied how much the department was under budget in 2011.
The Police Department anticipates, based on historic data, that 25 sworn officers will retire in 2013 and that 30 will retire in each 2014 and 2015.
About 127 of the city’s 849 sworn officers are over 50. Officers receive full retirement after age 55 and must retire by 65.