Cal City

CALIFORNIA CITY —  As it hires retirees to temporarily fill in where the city has been unsuccessful in recruiting new law enforcement officers, the City Council has adopted a formal policy to govern such employment practices.

Although it has been used in other agencies as well, the biggest use of this program has been in the Police Department, where the experience of retired officers is being put to use to focus on solving

major cases.

The policy states the city encourages “the hiring of qualified and physically fit CalPERS Sworn Police Officer annuitants” and it will follow current regulations set by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) for

these positions.

The Council voted 4-1 on April 9 to approve the policy, with Councilwoman Tami Johnson casting the dissenting vote.

The main issue debated was over the requirement that these retired hires pass a physical test.

Councilman Nick Lessenevitch, who requested a formal policy for these types of employment situations, was concerned the requirement would by unfairly exclusionary.

“This isn’t considered a full-time position. It’s part-time work,” he said.

Police Chief Eric Hurtado said any new employee has a requirement for a physical, but these are different depending on the position, and the retired officers are not subject to the same as a new recruit fresh from

the academy.

“There’s two different levels depending on what their assignment is,”

he said.

City Manager Robert Stockwell noted the city is liable for workers’ compensation should an employee — whether full-time or part-time — be injured in the job, so a physical requirement helps to protect the city.

“Physical prowess and the ability to physically be on the streets is a very important part of law enforcement,” Johnson said, stating the retirees hired by the department should have the same physical requirements as all other officers. “We need officers who can be out on the street and do the job the same as every officer out there across the board.”

“I strongly believe that we need to be fair to everyone, fair to the citizens. I want police officers out there who don’t have a higher propensity for injury or repeat injury,” she said.

The experience and knowledge these retired officers bring is valuable to the department and can help mentor younger officers, whether or not they can handle the same physical activities, Councilman

Donald Parris said.

“I’m all in favor for them,” he said.

“I think the chief can make a determination,” Councilman Gene Stump said. “I think that’s an individual item. Chief Hurtado knows

what he needs.”

Lessenevitch said he sees the program of hiring retirees temporarily where needed as a means of cutting costs for the city while obtaining experienced staff and that it is applicable across city departments, not just the Police Department.

“These people can be tremendous assets to our city at a cost savings,” he said. “There is a place for these people and that is the purpose of this item on the agenda. It is just to say that when we have a key that turns a certain lock,

let’s use it.”

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