The Town Council’s finance committee decided at its meeting Monday, Oct. 3, to pursue hiring of two new traffic officers even though the state turned down the town’s grant request for the hires and associated equipment.
The town had applied for more than $280,000 in Governor’s Crime Commission grants to fund the two positions for a year, including cars. It currently only has one traffic officer.
The 2016-17 budget included the expense for the new officers, but it was offset by the expected grant funds, and originally the new hires were only to have been made only if the grants came through. But committee Co-Chairman Pete Mangum said speeding is one of the biggest complaints he hears and that the town should consider a budget amendment to fund the officers.
“Traffic issues period are a concern for us here in Knightdale,” police Chief Lawrence Capps said. “It’s just one of those things you deal with with growth.”
Capps said once his department concentrates on enforcing speeding in one area, it pops up in another.
The cause got an assist when the Fire Department received a $343,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant to hire three new firefighters, an expense the council budgeted for this fiscal year regardless of whether the grant came through. So, the committee discussed whether those funds should be reallocated for the police positions.
Mangum said the finance committee should check in with the public safety committee, which meets Oct. 19, to see if members think the hires are justified.
Capps said the hiring process takes three to four months, and that if the town decided to move ahead with the hires he would hope to have someone on the job either by the end of the year or early next year.
Capps also said the department is considering adding a third patrol zone. Currently the town is split into just two.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826