Monterey County

Salinas police put detectives, sergeants on patrol to keep up with minimum requirements

Officers are working overtime nearly every day

SALINAS, Calif. - It's all hands on deck at the Salinas Police Department as detectives, sergeants and gang task force officers are being pulled into patrol duty to keep up with the bare minimum necessary to keep order on the streets.

Salinas police call it a jigsaw puzzle to schedule 140 police officers. 

"We have a shrinking pool of officers because our numbers have declined and the work (hasn't declined)," said Salinas Police Commander Mike Groves. "Almost every day we have officers working overtime just to meet the minimum."

Salinas police say scheduling is a giant headache.

With one to two detectives working patrol each day, their case loads suffer because patrol comes first.

Officer Todd Kessler is a member of the Gang Task Force Unit but puts those duties aside to work patrol.

"I try to pick up one shift on my days off," Kessler said.

While keeping his eyes peeled on the road, working overtime means giving his fellow officers a break.

"I try to do my part and help them out so they can spend time with their families or take vacations and that sort of thing," he said.

Kessler says working overtime can be tiring but with a wife and two kids in college, he said he also does it for them.

"Every call is different, every day is different, it's extremely enjoyable," he said. "In my opinion, it's the best job anybody could ask for."

The police department says it hopes to add 100 more officers if the public safety tax is approved in the June ballot. But the department added it won't start seeing the effects until they can train and swear in those officers, which could take a couple of years.


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