The Lodi Police Commission discussed and revised a job description for the vacant chief of police position last week.
The chief’s role is currently being filled by a Columbia County Sheriff’s lieutenant on an interim basis. The lieutenant, Wayne Smith, started working with the city May 20 and attended the police commission meeting May 30.
During the meeting, Smith briefed the commission on his efforts to shore up the city’s department, which currently is operating at about half its usual staff. The commission then reviewed the document that details the position’s duties and description.
Smith said his first week in office included implementation of new communication technology. Smith also said he’s working to establish a training and task-force network between the sheriff’s department and city police.
During the meeting, the commission made minor alterations to the chief-of-police job description and agreed to meet later this month for finalization. The city’s human resources/finance committee will first need to review the document prior to approval, according to Mayor Jim Ness.
The human resource/finance committee meets June 11. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, the commissioners tentatively planned to meet June 12 for finalization.
Commissioners said they hoped to close down the initial application period July 3.
Smith said he hopes to normalize operations after the city’s remaining officers suffered rapid resignations of their chief and several colleagues. He said the goal is to provide a “Band-Aid” for the department until a full-time replacement is hired.
The department has retained a strong foundation, he said.
“You’ve got a very good base to build off of,” Smith told the commission.
According to police department Administrative Assistant Melissa Randall-O’Neil, Smith’s presence had already stabilized her workflow.
“I’ve got so much done, and I feel so productive,” Randall-O’Neil told the commission. “…I’m thankful for what we chose to do as a city.”
Smith remains under direction of Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brander. At the same time, he is expected to take direction from the city and its mayor, Jim Ness, according to his contract signed last month.
When asked what would occur if both parties offered conflicting orders, Smith said he would air on the side of the city.
“My preference is to do Lodi things the Lodi way,” Smith said.
Following the meeting, Ness said the sheriff’s office would provide additional law-enforcement coverage if needed while the city’s ranks remain low.
“It’s really going pretty well,” Ness said. “We’re still well-covered. We’ve got Columbia County as backup.”
Police Commission President Bill Statz said the city is simultaneously working to fill one vacant officer position. Statz said the city will then focus on filling out the remaining vacancies.
Four officers remain on Lodi’s police force, including Smith. Smith’s contract with the city runs through December and costs the city $13,955 a month.
Former Police Chief Scott Klicko resigned in April. Two other officers, including a lieutenant, have left since then. Former Police Commission President Robert Westby also resigned last month.
City officials have repeated that the resignations are coincidental.