CRETE | On Monday night, Crete hired its first deputy chief of police in decades.
The Village Board voted 4-1 to an ordinance for the position by eliminating one of the five Police Department sergeants and turning it into a deputy position.
Village President Michael Einhorn, who said there never has been a deputy chief of police during his 28 years as head of village government, said the move was made at the request of Police Chief James Paoletti. After the Village Board vote was taken, police Sgt. Robert A. Hill took the oath for the title.
“This changes the makeup in our ranks,” said Einhorn, of the change, while Paoletti said of the move. “This is a groundbreaking moment.”
Village Trustee Mark Wiater said he likes that the change in structure does not add to the police department budget, adding municipal officials will pay close attention to the budget being prepared for the village fiscal year.
“We can talk about this at the end of the year if the budget goes all out of whack,” he said.
Village Trustee Dean Gaffney was the lone official who voted against the ordinance. Trustee Larry Johnston was not present for Monday’s board meeting.
Gaffney said he fears having fewer sergeants will place more responsibilities on them, which could result in them working more hours at overtime rates that would erase any potential cost savings from the move.
Paoletti said Hill had been working a lot of overtime at his previous rank of sergeant, and that one reason for the change is to put him on a fixed salary as deputy chief. Although he said Hill will face additional responsibilities to go along with his new title.
Gaffney tried to get his colleagues to amend the ordinance to say that the changes could be undone next year if the cost savings were not to everybody’s satisfaction, although Einhorn said that such a maneuver could get overly complicated.
Gaffney also made a point of saying that his hesitancy to approve the change should not be interpreted as opposition to Paoletti. “I fully back the chief,” he said. “I have full confidence with the chief and his intentions here.”
Einhorn said he has no problem with the change because he sees other police departments, including Monee and Lynwood, which have similar hierarchies in their leadership.
“This is not an unheard of type of arrangement,” he said.