• Roger Sims, Journal Staff

Pleasanton council approves adding to police force

Updated: Jul 27

The Pleasanton City Council on Monday discussed annexing a portion of U.S. Highway 69 from a quarter mile north and a quarter mile south of the turnarounds (marked with a white circle above) to aid police in keeping drugs out of the community. (Google Earth maps)

This article has been updated to include corrections on the times of police patrol and to clarify the area on the highway the city is interested in annexing.

PLEASANTON – Continuing concerns over drug trafficking coming off U.S. Highway 69 into Pleasanton drove the discussion on two fronts during the Pleasanton City Council meeting on Monday, July 18.

An unexpectedly favorable outlook on the city’s budget for 2023 as well as a report that the city’s three man police force has been stretched to the max resulted in the council voting to advertise for another full-time police officer.

The council also signaled its intent to move forward on the annexation of an additional portion of U.S. 69. City officials have been making the argument that increasing the length of the highway annexed into city limits will give Pleasanton police better ability to make traffic stops which will work to stem the amount of drugs coming into the city.

Police Chief Tristan Snyder outlined the current shortfalls with the police department’s schedule as well as an analysis of the time the current staff – the chief and two officers – work.

He said he had developed a schedule for four officers working 12-hour shifts: one from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the other from noon to midnight. Those shifts cover about 77 percent of the call-outs, the chief said. Even with a four-person police force the plan is to cover the time from midnight to 7 a.m., with officers who are on-call.

. He said that so far this year, 53 call-outs have been made during that seven hour period, and he expected that number to reach as high as 106 for the year.

‘Depending on whatever officer it is, whether they’re new or whether it’s me, there’s somewhere between 220 and 320 days a year we’re working,” Snyder said. “So we don’t have a lot of time off.”

Working 220 days gives officers 2,640 hours annually; 320 days means officers are working in excess of 3,800 hours. A worker at a 40-hour-a-week job works about 2,000 hours annually.

Snyder estimated that hiring a fourth officer would eliminate nearly $12,000 in overtime pay.

He said that at the current pace, his department expected to respond to about 450 call-outs for 2022. He said that even on days he doesn’t work, he responds to call-outs.

He said that so far this year he has only been off 17 days out of about 190 days in the year to date.

Councilman Jake Mattingley said from the experience where he works, it take four employees to be on the job 24 hours a day.

Mayor Mike Frisbie asked if the facilities at county’s new Justice Center would make his job easier. He noted that the new jail with two padded rooms might prevent the city’s officers from having to “babysit” people who are in a crisis mode.

Snyder said he wasn’t sure whether the new jail would be that much more beneficial.

City Administrator Teresa Whitaker estimated the cost of hiring another officer would run from $60,000 to $68,000 including benefits.

She also noted that she didn’t know how soon another officer could be hired, noting that both officers on staff now have not been on the job very long. One of them has not yet graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchison yet and cannot patrol alone.

Frisbie indicated he expected some criticism about hiring a fourth officer. “I’ve heard people say we already have too many, but we can back it up.”

Whitaker said that because the city will have retired a substantial amount of debt in 2022, the outlook for the 2023 budget was very good. She said that there would be enough left in the budget - even staying within the revenue neutral goal – to afford to hire one.

She also said she was very concerned about the amount of days that Snyder was working.

“Something’s gotta give,” she said. “I don’t want to see us lose a good police chief.”

The council went on the unanimously approve beginning the process to hire another officer.

Annexing an addition portion of U.S. 69 was also discussed during Monday’s session.

City Attorney Burton Harding said he had been in contact with authorities at the Kansas Department of Transportation about the proposal and they had given the city the green light to proceed.

In late May, the council asked Harding to begin work on annexing an additional portion of the highway. The city already has a portion of U.S. 169 in city limits

On the southbound side of the highway, a portion from 1200 Road to just north of 1000 Road is in city limits. On the northbound side, the highway from 1000 Road north to 1100 Road is in city limits.

The initial discuss in May included annexing both north- and south-bound lanes from 850 Road to 1350 Road. It would increase from about three miles total currently to about 10 miles. The addition would cover both exits that lead into the city.

However, on Monday Mattingley said he was concerned about what duties the city would take on with the annexation. He worried that if, for example, a semitrailer tipped over along the section of highway inside Pleasanton city limits the city would be responsible for the cleanup.

Snyder said that in the case of commercial vehicles, the Kansas Highway Patrol would take the lead. He added that in the case of a deer or cow being struck and left on the roadway, it would be his department’s responsibility to remove the animal so it wouldn’t pose a danger to traffic. The Kansas Department of Transportation, however, would be responsible for removing the carcass from the site.

Councilman Aaron Portman suggested shortening the area annexed to about three-quarters of a mile north and three-quarters of a mile south of the Sixth Street exit off U.S. 169 – a total of 1.5 miles of all four lanes. That will enable officers to use emergency turnarounds in patrolling the area.

Harding is expected to have a resolution of annexation ready for the council to consider at its Aug. 1 meeting.

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