Ironton#039;s police injury list growing

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2005

Overtime has been a major issue with the Ironton Police Department lately and it is one problem that is not likely to get any better any time soon.

Ironton Police Chief Bill Garland said he has two officers on the injury list, thus creating a manpower problem at a time when city council is admonishing him to cut OT costs for his department.

Last week, Capt. Chris Bowman injured his shoulder when he slipped and fell on a resident's porch while chasing a fleeing suspect.

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Officer Beth Rist has been off work for several weeks after she injured her ankle in a fall.

Garland said this leaves him with nine officers to cover three shifts a day, seven days a week. "We'll try to fill in as best we can. It's just been bad for the last year. Lately, the flood gates have gone up a couple times in the last few months, I don't want to say that the presidential visit last year was a problem (but) we did have to cover it," Garland said.

"Normally, we have 11 uniformed officers and two detectives but we might have to pull a detective and put him back on the road. I hate to pull one of them because they've done such a good job working together and they've gotten an overwhelming number of cases solved."

The overtime issued will likely be addressed at an Ironton City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

"Certainly our first concern is for the safety of our officers and the safety of the public," Mayor John Elam said. "Officer injuries are unfortunate, especially when they are in the line of duty, and injuries are not something that can be forecasted. Certainly the shortage of officers is pushing up overtime. Still, we're trying to look at creative ways to reduce overtime."

Elam said it is possible that one or both officers may be able to return to work on a light-duty assignment during recuperation.