Friday, May 1, 2009

Ketchum to vote on cop consolidation

Deal could save city $1.5 million


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum City Council is set to vote on a four-year contract with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office to manage the Ketchum Police Department.

No details of the contract were immediately available. According to a prepared statement from Ketchum City Hall, the contract would keep the personnel, uniforms and vehicles now used by the Ketchum Police Department.

Ketchum City officials listened to a presentation behind closed doors from Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling in early February. Femling met with the Ketchum City Council during an executive session, which was closed to press and public.

A subsequent public meeting, on February 20, drew opposition from a broad spectrum of the public, including former Ketchum mayor Ed Simon and former Ketchum police chief Cal Nevland.

In an interview, Mayor Randy Hall said that as currently proposed, the contract would save the city nearly $1.5 million over the course of the next four years.

The agreement includes the addition of one Ketchum police officer, to be hired "immediately."

The contract requires that a Ketchum police chief would be appointed by the Blaine County sheriff to serve as a liaison to Ketchum city management. That person would also "assimilate county management disciplines." The position of an assistant police chief would be eliminated.

Ketchum has nine police officers, with three open positions. The city is also operating under an interim police chief since the resignation of Cory Lyman in October.

Since Lyman's departure, interim police chief Mike McNeil also announced his retirement. The city's police department is now operating under acting police chief Dave Kassner.

The council is set to vote on the matter in its regular meeting Monday, May 4, at Ketchum City Hall.

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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