City aims to beef up police force

By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

As Grove City’s population continues to grow, the division of police must grow with it.

At a recent city council meeting, Grove City Safety Director Kevin Teaford gave an update on staffing for the police department.

According to Teaford, the city now has a total of 66 sworn officers, which includes eight sergeants, three lieutenants, and the chief of police. He said two officers could retire at any time and another 12 officers are eligible for retirement within the next five years. Bringing in new staff is a priority.

Teaford did report that five recruits graduated from basic training on March 15 and five recruits began basic training on April 15. The safety director said with more experienced officers retiring, the department is getting younger.

“About 55 percent of city officers have less than 10 years on the job,” said Teaford. “That is an extremely young department.”

Of the 66 sworn officers, 14 have less than two years’ time on the job, 14 have two to five years, eight have six to 10 years, 16 have 11 to 20 years of experience, 12 have 21 to 25 years, and two have close to 30 years or more of experience.

Teaford said they are trying to bring more diversity to the force. Of the 66 sworn officers, 59 are men and seven are women.

“Of sworn officers, 10.6 percent are women,” said Teaford. “The national average is 12 percent. We’ve got room to grow.”

According to the safety director, of the 66 staffers, 59 are white, five are black, and two are Hispanic or Latino.

To bring in new officers, the city plans to create a recruitment video. City representatives also plan to attend recruitment events. Teaford said last year, they attended 11 recruitment events. So far this year, they have been present at one – the Arnold Classic – with three more scheduled next month.

“We should have new officers ready to go by the end of the year or early in 2025,” said Teaford. “We should be fully staffed later this year.”

The city’s budget set aside more than $13 million for its police department and those funds include the increase in officers. Teaford said during the budget process that he reviewed calls for service and response times and determined that the city needs more officers in the field. However, he said the division does not want officers simply responding to calls for service.

“About 40 to 45 percent of the time, we want our police officers on crime prevention efforts.”

The department also put civilians in administration roles to keep officers in the field.
According to Teaford, “For the first time in many years, we are at full staffing at our communications center.”

 

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