The Zephyrhills Police Department is shaking up its command staff — a measure it hopes will improve efficiency and communications throughout the law enforcement agency.
The department is adding an operations lieutenant and an administrative lieutenant, while eliminating a captain’s position and a detective sergeant’s position — roles that have been vacant for months.
The lieutenants’ positions already have been advertised internally and will be filled from the current group of sergeants. The starting salary for both is $53,584. The starting salary for the eliminated captain and detective sergeant positions were $57,975 and $47, 696, respectively.
The new positions are expected to be filled by the end of the year or in early 2018, Zephyrhills Police Chief Derek Brewer said.
The Zephyrhills City Council approved the staffing proposal last month.
In a memo to the council and City Manager Steve Spina, Brewer said it offers a number of benefits, including, “better span of control, improved unity of command, opportunities for employee advancement and potential cost savings.”
The department’s command staff in the past has been budgeted for a chief, two captains and five sergeants, as well as 25 sworn officers.
One of those captain’s position has been vacant since June, however. The detective sergeant’s position also has remained vacant since the promotion of Capt. Reggie Roberts, at around the same time.
Because of that, Roberts has been the liaison for the agency’s operations and administrative divisions, without the benefit of another captain or detective sergeant to reduce the burden.
Adding two lieutenants — to report to Roberts — will “level out” supervision for both divisions and improve agency directives, the police chief explained.
“By placing some lieutenants in between the sergeant and the captain, it allows for information to flow a little better, and also for the captain not to be stretched so thin,” Brewer said.
Once in place, the operations lieutenant will directly oversee three departments: uniform patrol, criminal divisions and special operations — which encompass reserve, honor guard, bike patrol.
The administrative lieutenant, meanwhile, will oversee communications and administrative support and services, ranging from property and evidence management, record keeping, accreditation and training, fleet maintenance and so on.
Brewer, a 15-year veteran of the department and a former lieutenant, said the idea to reshuffle the command staff arose while he was serving as interim chief from June to September.
He was officially sworn-in as the city’s police chief in October, replacing former chief David Shears, who retired in May.
Brewer pointed out many similar-sized agencies, such as the New Port Richey Police Department, “adopt that model of more layers in-between.”
It gives the command structure “a more linear approach,” he said.
“One thing I’ve kind of noticed with the chief and the two captains over the years is that span of control is still pretty wide, so I kind of felt like this was the best way to approach the span of control, as well as just making sure things move more fluid,” the chief added.
The shuffling may also reduce agency overtime costs.
Besides assisting with administrative duties, the lieutenants would also support patrol functions by filling gaps in supervision should unforeseen needs arise from shift supervisors, such as sick time. Instead of calling in another supervisor for coverage, a lieutenant could cover the open shift to eliminate the need to call in a sergeant or officer in charge on the opposite side of the schedule.
Brewer explained, “A lot of times when sergeants accumulate overtime, we don’t have that ability to adjust their schedule, but having lieutenants may allow us to fill those gaps, so as they accumulate the overtime, we can kind of adjust their schedule and save in overtime.”
In 2014, independent consultant William Liquori, from the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), recommended reinstituting lieutenants within Zephyrhills Police.
In his report, Liquori, a 44-year law enforcement veteran from Altamonte Springs and past president of the statewide association, said communication was a major concern among all employees, and that command staff needed to address the issue.
Brewer said that report further “reinforced the need to bring (lieutenants) back.”
By hiring lieutenants from within, Brewer said it allows for additional opportunities for promotion and internal movement for the department’s employees.
“We thought that it would create better morale; that was another thing we had looked at,” Brewer said.
Published December 20, 2017