Salisbury Police Department to add four new civilian positions

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council approved to add a total of four new civilian positions for the Salisbury Police Department. At the Nov. 8 meeting, Police Chief Patrick “P.J.” Smith presented an update to the council on staffing within the department.

SPD currently has six vacancies “on paper” and 23 total unrealized positions. Smith added that 16 people are now in basic law enforcement training or waiting to be admitted and that the department has five applicants.

Smith’s three-month projection noted that there will still be six vacancies, but only 16 positions will be unrealized. The four civilian positions include a senior administration position for command staff, a senior administration position for criminal investigations, a community resources coordinator homeless advocate, and a downtown liaison.

“The civilian positions that I am going to be asking for go to support and provide tremendous support towards the sworn staff,” Smith said.

The biggest differences between sworn staff and civilian positions are civilians do not have the power to arrest or have a firearm. Sworn officers have powers to arrest, go through several certifications, and are required to take a physical and written state exam.

The senior administration position for command staff was reallocated in 2017 to hire the city’s first crime analyst and was previously around for 30 years. That person will back command staff, assist with several clerical items for patrol officers and help with calendar. That new job will allow patrol officers to be out in the field more frequently and not focus on paperwork as much.

The senior administration position for criminal investigations has in the past handled organizing sensitive cases to let officers have additional time for investigative work. They will be screening incoming cases against kids, keep a log of what comes into the department, note the Department of Social Services worker assigned, acquire body cam footage, and confirm jurisdiction of where a crime occurred. They will also act as a go-between for the district attorney’s office and the police department for any requests or questions needed by investigators.

“I didn’t realize until I became chief how much the administrative assistant helped patrol and helped command staff and how important that position was,” Smith said.

The community resources coordinator homeless advocate will work directly with Homeless Advocate Dennis Rivers with the unsheltered population. However, their salary will be lower than Rivers’ because they will have “fewer responsibilities” than him. They will collaborate with Rowan Helping Ministries “to find and introduce the proper resources needed for the situation the unsheltered population needs when they accept the help.”

The downtown liaison was initially a sworn position, but due to new legislation, its duties can now be done by a civilian. They will oversee larceny reports, parking enforcement in the downtown area, minor parking lot accidents, and work with DSI and downtown business owners. The downtown liaison will enforce parking rules on Lee and Fisher streets, Gateway Center and Bell Tower Green. Scheduling for this position will be staggered to comprise of morning, afternoon, evening and weekend shifts. They do not have the power to arrest, but can call for backup and write a report for an incident after the fact.

The total $300,000 investment has already been approved for the 2023-2024 fiscal year budget. Smith said he will start interviewing for the positions, “as quickly as I can get human resources to post them.”