To view the City Council Action Notice from the Regular Meeting of August 22, 2016, click here.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – 08/22/2016 Page : A06
Where are the alarm bells?
By: City of Fairbanks Chief of Police-Randall Aragon
Retired Police Chief Dan Hoffman’s June 28 article caught my attention.
After assuming command of the Fairbanks Police Department,
I met with him. We discussed issues during his tenure from 1989. He mentioned lack of staff, inadequate salaries and bene- fits and continuous attempts at adequate funding from the City Council. Retired Chief Laren Zager expressed similar concerns to me. As chief of police since November 2014, I agree with both former chiefs on the need for our City Council to provide a wage and benefit package that is competitive compared to other departments in Alaska. I also need more staff.
With officers who have left, I am limited in discussing personnel issues. However, the reasons some left include other jobs closer to home, a perceived comparable or better wage and benefit package, less call volume and mandatory overtime (related to FPD staff shortages) leading to a better work-life balance, and lower employee health care cost contributions. At FPD, officers pay up to $907 monthly toward health care. One officer went to Juneau, where the employee pays $105 per month. The difference is about $10,000 more per year in income to the officer. Anchor- age starts its recruits about $15,000 per year higher than FPD, and officers pay nothing for health care. Some FPD officers drew their pension and then took other part-time or full-time work to supplement their pension.
A huge issue at FPD is the lack of a current contract or Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the city and union. The City Council must approve any CBA. It did so in August 2014 but later reversed that approval. FPD officers have not had a salary increase (not even a cost of liv- ing increase) since 2012. Mean- while, health care costs have climbed fast. As a result, some officers take home less money now than in the past. Officers
are also unhappy that the City Council has sometimes refused to fund arbitrator awards. If the parties cannot reach agreement on a new CBA, then an arbitrator is supposed to decide the terms of a new CBA.
The city human resources (HR) director recently stated that HR attempts to contact every depart- ing employee for a detailed exit interview. Some employees decline to participate. About
65 percent of departing employees provide exit interviews. The HR director reported that more than 84 percent of departing employees disagreed or strong- ly disagreed that their pay was reasonable in comparison with people in similar jobs elsewhere; more than 92 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that city health insurance benefits are fair and competitive.
A competitive wage and benefit package is needed to attract and retain qualified officers. Approximately 80 percent of American police departments are having trouble filling vacancies. Mayor John Eberhart and HR are ana- lyzing wages and benefits and comparing them to other departments in Alaska. The mayor and HR are working hard to fill cur- rent vacancies, including outside recruiting trips, with a particular focus on lateral hires, since they would not have to go to the Police Academy, thereby saving months in training time and cost. Even after we fill current vacancies, I need additional officers. A staff- ing study we presented last year showed that we need six more patrol officers. There is a huge surge of additional people into the city each day for work and other activities. Mayor Eberhart supports increasing the number of officers. However, the City Council must appropriate the money.
FPD is working hard to protect and serve our Golden Heart City. My officers do a great job under the circumstances. However, to attract and retain good officers, we need a competitive wage and benefit package. Reaching agreement on a new CBA (or funding the previously approved CBA) is important to employee morale. Even when the current vacancies are filled, I need more officers.
Fairbanks Police Chief Randall Aragon took over as head of the city police department in November 2014.
On 08/22/16 the City of Fairbanks Police Department received a report shortly after midnight of a wanted subject at the 1000 block of Kellum Street. Officers responded and were able to locate William Doug Burgess, 18, of Fairbanks inside an apartment at that location. A $250,000 warrant had been issued for Burgess in regards to an Anchorage kidnapping case. Burgess was taken into custody without incident and turned over to the Fairbanks Correctional Center.
Anyone with additional information regarding Burgess is asked to contact Anchorage Police at 907-786-8900.
Contact: Officer Doug Welborn 907.450-6555 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join your friends and neighbors for a Southside and Downtown neighborhood beautification project Saturday, August 27, 2016. Cleanup will be from 10 – 1 PM. There will be a BBQ for participants hosted by FNA Community Services from 12 – 2 PM.
Meeting and check in locations are the Prospector parking lot or JP Jones parking lot at 10 AM for Southside. The Downtown meeting and check in point is at the Sadlers Parking lot at 10 AM. Please check in so we have a count for the BBQ.
Garbage bags and gloves will be furnished. Please bring a tool to pick up trash if you prefer to use one.
FNA Community Services and the City of Fairbanks thank Julian Thibedeau for organizing this neighborhood beautification project. Taking part in the cleanup can be accredited to community service hours.
To view the City Council Agenda Packet for the Regular Meeting of August 22, 2016, click here.
The public is invited to come and enjoy a celebration of the F-35s and our military this Saturday, August 20, from Noon to 8:00 PM at Pioneer Park.
Audio from past Council Meetings Available here: Link
NOTE: If you’re having trouble listening to the audio for this meeting, please try playing the recording in Firefox.
City of Fairbanks Police Chief Randall Aragon competed last week at the Tanana Valley State Fair in “Dancing with the Stars”. It was a fundraiser for the Lathrop High School ballroom dance program. Chief Aragon enjoys being active in the community and supporting good causes. Congratulations to Chief Aragon and his partner, Miss Clara Cheney, for an outstanding performance! A link to view their performance is http://www.webcenter11.com/story/dancing-fairbanks-stars
Gerrit Butler was born and raised in Fairbanks He is proud to be like his grandfather in serving the City. His grandfather, Wally Droz, served as City Manager for 30+ years and Gerrit plans to work just as long for the City. Gerrit is very active in the mixed martial arts community here in Fairbanks, teaching 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu at Frostbite Vale Tudo. Gerrit thanks the City for this opportunity.
Tyler Larimer is 22 years old and grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. He served the State of Alaska as a Firefighter/EMT with the Alaska Air National Guard, as well as a correctional officer at the Anchorage Jail during his journey to become a Police Officer. Tyler is extremely excited to have been granted the opportunity to relocate to Fairbanks and serve this community. Tyler also started employment with the City last week and is now attending the Law Enforcement Academy through the Community and Technical College (CTC).
Caleb Reuter grew up in Fairbanks and is now raising his family here. Previously he was self-employed as a floor installer. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and practicing martial arts. Caleb started employment with the City last week and is now attending the Law Enforcement Academy through CTC.
Congratulations and welcome to Gerrit, Caleb, and Tyler.
Pictured left to right: Tyler Larimer, Mayor Eberhart, Gerrit Butler, and Caleb Reuter.
If you have visited the Clay Street Cemetery lately, it is easy to see that it has recently had much tender loving care. City of Fairbanks Public Works employee Phil Petman has a degree in Landscape Horticulture and is a Certified Arborist. Phil has been in charge of the care of the cemetery this summer. When you talk to Phil about the work that he has been doing and assisting with, it is very obvious that he has much knowledge and love for trees and plants.
With enthusiasm and pride, Phil talks about pruning trees in the cemetery, vegetation control on the pathways, grass and weed control along the fence lines, and heavy brush cutting that has taken place this summer at the cemetery. Earlier this summer the crew did full fertilizing of the lawns and seeded the grass. They have filled in sunken graves and straightened monuments. Frequent mowing helps keep up the cemetery’s great appearance.
Phil also cares for and maintains the grounds at Patrick B. Cole City Hall, the City of Fairbanks Police Department, the City of Fairbanks Fire Department and the City of Fairbanks Public Works. Phil makes sure our lawns, flowers, trees, and shrubs are all in excellent condition. Phil is extremely knowledgeable about plants and trees and loves talking about them. Mayor Eberhart stated “the City of Fairbanks is lucky to have Phil Petman and our great Public Works employees. Thanks so much for all you do. A lot of additional, long overdue work has been done at Clay Street Cemetery this summer. It looks great.”