Council members meet to discuss GPD
Department reassesses situation
BY TYSON SMEDSTAD
The Garrison Police Department has had staff retention issues in the six months since coming to fruition.
Garrison Police Chef Travis Tesch, council members Maria Olson, Paul Schlichting and Curt Olson, city attorneys Jim Wilson and Matthew Zimney, Mayor Stu Merry and City Auditor Diane Affeldt attended a meeting the evening of Sept. 30 to discuss that issue.
The cycle has been to hire a new officer, get them trained in, then the officer leaves after a few months and the process starts over.
To help try and figure out the issue, the group of city council members and others met to brainstorm on how to help Tesch.
Last week, Tesch, Garrison Superintendent Nick Klemisch and McLean County detectives Aaron Matties and Justin Krohmer met to discuss the six-month old Garrison Police Department find its way.
Matties and Krohmer both said the McLean County Sheriff’s Department is willing to support the Garrison Police Department with any of its needs.
The department needs a patrol officer taking care of the everyday stuff, where Chief Tesch needs to take care of more important, pressing issues.
“At the starting salary of $37,500 we are bringing the bottom of the barrel applicants,” Curt Olson said. “By under-budgeting, you can set yourself up for failure.”
Maria Olson asked to see what comparably sized towns to Garrison pay their police officers.
After Affeldt was able to pull up wages of the most comparable town similar in size to Garrison the council members were able to review the salaries.
And with that, Schlichting said he would support a higher starting wage for patrol officers.
“I’m doing my damnedest to make this work. I’m passionate about it .. this means a lot to me and this means a lot to the people,” Merry said.