Purdy officials review job descriptions

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Aldermen settle on weekend police schedule

Purdy city council members took the unusual step of reviewing job descriptions for full-time city employees in May.

Mayor Bo Prock presented aldermen and employees with proposed descriptions, seeking to update records and match duties actually done with written summaries. Prock said he expected to find some unlisted duties, which surfaced in discussion.

Clerk Debbie Redshaw had an earlier job description, which raised no issues. Others raised a number of questions.

Police Chief Jackie Lowe, for instance, said the police description failed to mention officers’ duties as bailiffs for the municipal court. That would include transporting prisoners to and from the county jail in Cassville for court sessions. No mention was also given of officers documenting and resolving problems with the city’s patrol car.

“We are responsible for investigating felonies in town,” Lowe said. “In the rewrite, it says we turned all that over to the sheriff. That’s not so.”

The hourly expectations of officers also came under question. Council members appeared comfortable keeping the city’s two full-time officers at 40 hours a week. There was some question about scheduling comp time, which had been referred to the mayor. Alderman Scott Redshaw suggested referring that duty to the city clerk, who tracks employee hours anyway, along with vacation time. Council members liked the idea.

“If there’s a problem, see me,” Prock said.

Redshaw suggested running scheduling through the police chief. Lowe said that already happens, and he turns the schedule in to the clerk. The final version put the responsibility on the supervisor, then to the clerk, and if a discrepancy remained, the mayor would resolve it.

It was less clear how to schedule the part-time officer, who works on weekends. Aldermen agreed they needed to keep the part-time job to less than 30 hours, but how to schedule that was less obvious.

Alderman Scott Redshaw said he wanted to see weekend police coverage increased from eight to 10 hours. Lowe said the start of shifts over weekends varies, so setting a specific time block was not realistic. Officer Russ Nichols said he is always on call. If a matter takes 15 minutes to resolve over a weekend, he won’t even start a log sheet, just deal with the problems and go home.

Prock suggested putting Friday and Saturday at a minimum of 10 hours and leaving Sunday open to whatever was needed. Jon Egleston, who usually works that shift, said he could work two 12-hour shifts. Prock concluded 10-hour shifts were in order for Friday and Saturday evenings, leaving the Sunday routine open as needed.

As a public relations effort, Prock suggested officers offer business operators a nightly check on their establishments. Nichols said officers already at least eye buildings nightly, though they don’t shake every door. Lowe tallied approximately 25 businesses, including churches and daycares. Clerk Redshaw said officers could make a checklist and standardize their review. Nichols said officers have been leaving cards for businesses on the occasion of answering alarm calls.

One of the overlooked duties in the job descriptions focused on animal control. No one was officially responsible for catching dogs. Lowe said officers and public works personnel have split that duty for years. Public works employees carry a pole and a cage in their truck for that task. Officers have a carrier in their car, but not on all occasions. If time permits, Lowe said animal calls are referred to public works.

“Almost no one calls to claim dogs,” Lowe said. “A lot of dogs come from outside the city.”

Nichols noted that since the city switched to Doty Sanitation for handling trash, the company’s carts have more secure lids. Consequently, the number of dogs in town has dropped because they can no longer get so many free meals.

Another duty falling to police covered building inspections, assigned to Nichols. He pointed out specific duties are listed in the ordinance, but no separate job description existed. Nichols said where he started those duties, he followed the requirements rigorously, as handed down by the previous inspector, then Fire Chief Mike Redshaw. Later, council members reduced the responsibilities to condemning buildings only. He offered to do safety inspections again, and said he provided the final inspection on Adelita’s, the new Mexican restaurant.

“If someone wants to build up to fences, there’s nothing that says they can’t,” Nichols said. “We don’t issue permits. Nothing says I can’t do a safety inspection. A plan review is very different. If you adopt a building code, that’s more complex, to say nothing of electric and plumbing codes. I don’t have the time or the expertise to inspect those.”

“Some people call and ask [if they can do certain things],” Clerk Redshaw said. “Others do whatever they want. Those are the people we usually have problems with.”

Scott Redshaw offered to bring in a safety inspection checklist used by the city of Joplin. Their inspectors focus on fire extinguishers, exit signs, lights and house numbers. Prock suggested Redshaw and Nichols review that strategy and come up with a plan that would work for Purdy.

Public works employees had no specific problems with their job descriptions. Prock asked to have all the job descriptions retyped and ready for adoption at a subsequent meeting.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: