Police Officials Brief Council on Department’s Master Career Plan

Acting Deputy Police Chief Randy Foster has filled a vacancy left when Kevin Purtymun retired last month. As part of the department’s restructuring, Foster’s previous position of captain has been eliminated. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

By Carol A. Clark

Police Chief Wayne Torpy and Acting Deputy Police Chief Randy Foster briefed County Council this evening regarding a Master Career Plan for the Los Alamos Police Department.

“The Master Career Plan provides a road map for our employees to follow that will allow them to progress through a pay system while increasing their value to the organization and the community,” Torpy said. “This plan is often referred to as a Dual Career Ladder because it allows employees the opportunity to advance their carrier by a means other than choosing promotion to supervisory positions to increase their job enrichment and compensation.”

In the last three years, LAPD has hired 14 officers and expended about $1 million during the 10 months it takes to train those officers before they become beneficial to the community, he said. 

Police officers attending tonight’s Council meeting include at left, Acting Deputy Chief Randy Foster, center from left, Det. Brian Schamber and his wife and Lt. Scott Mills, back row from left, Lt. Preston Ballew, Lt. Jason Wardlow Herrera and Sgt. Oliver Morris. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Torpy explained that with the implementation of the Master Career Plan, the Los Alamos Police Department intends to meet the following goals:

  • To provide a performance based method to achieve the Council goal of Operational Excellence that will invest in staff and their development and promote a high performing organization;
  • To provide Council and County Administration a clear, well defined “pay for performance” system that demonstrates a “value added” to the taxpayers as employees graduate through the pay structure;
  • To provide employees the opportunity to advance through specific steps of the pay structure by demonstrating a combination of work experience, performance, education and professional achievements;
  • To provide a pay structure that is equal to or exceeds competitive agencies throughout New Mexico; and 
  • To hire and retain the most educated, most professional, and best trained employees for the Los Alamos Police Department and citizens of Los Alamos County.

The cost to implement the Master Career Plan within the Los Alamos Police Department is $79,369, Foster said, adding that to invest in staff and their development is to create a high performing organization. The Master Career Plan also ensures that the LAPD maintains quality essential routine services and supporting infrastructure.

Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy, center, Acting Deputy Chief Randy Foster, left, and Det. Brian Schamber brief Council. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Torpy and Foster explained to Council that the department’s goals include:

  • To hire and retain the most educated, most professional, and best trained employees for the Los Alamos Police Department;
  • To provide a performance based method to achieve the Council goal of Operational Excellence that will invest in staff and their development and promote a high performing organization;
  • To provide the council and administration of Los Alamos County a clear, well defined pay for performance system that demonstrates a “value added” to our taxpayers as employees graduate through the pay structure;
  • To provide employees the opportunity to advance through specific steps of the pay structure by demonstrating a combination of work experience, performance, education and professional achievements; and
  • To provide a pay structure that is equal to or exceeds our competitive agencies in New Mexico.

Current challenges facing the department pertain to recruitment and retention of quality officer.

PERA, being portable, makes remaining attractive to current employees critical, Torpy said, adding that the typical lateral recruitments from other agencies usually impact officers with 3-5 years’ experience.

“Forty-four of our current 79 positions have five years or less service,” Torpy said. “The largest investment in our employees is made in the first year of employment – $77,000 is invested in the rookie training period. It takes 10 months before an officer completes training and can actually fill a slot in a schedule. Our competing agencies offer attractive financial incentives that may draw our employees away over the next several years.”

The Master Career Plan offers various pay incentives including educational. Under the new plan, all employees with an Associates Degree or higher will be compensated monthly as follows:

  • Associate’s Degree: $100/month
  • Bachelor’s Degree: $150/month
  • Master’s Degree: $200/month

The Los Alamos Police Department has 37 full time employees, which will not change under the proposed restructuring plan. Of those employees, four hold Master’s Degrees, 14 hold Bachelor’s and one holds an Associate Degree among the sworn officers, said Foster who along with Torpy holds a Master’s Degree. There are two Bachelor Degrees and and Associates Degree among dispatchers and two Bachelor Degrees in the detention division.

“That number is growing with our officers enrolled in college programs,” he said.

Torpy explained that by completing a reorganization within the Los Alamos Police Department, the community will receive the following benefits:

  • 4 additional detention officer position to provide better security;
  • 1 additional police officer position to provide additional support to LANL; and
  • total savings of $46,302.

Council asked clarifying questions of the police officials during this evening’s meeting. County Administrator Harry Burgess spoke of the pay for performance plan in place across the County and said that there is interest in his mind of how this Master Career Plan might be useful Countywide because it’s a more formalized, perhaps less subjective structure.

Council Chair Sharon Stover said that this might open the door for other departments within the County to follow Torpy’s lead to implement some of his ideas such as incentivizing education. 

LAPD will revisit this topic of implementing the Master Career Plan within its department with Council at its Nov. 13 meeting.

 

 

 

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