Hello, my name is Tom Butkovich, and I am running for the position of Sugar Creek City Marshal in the upcoming April 2021 election. I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit this page and for learning a little more about me. Throughout the website you will see my qualification which I feel makes me the best candidate for City Marshal. You will also see some of the ideas I would like to implement if I am elected. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Some of my main areas to focus on.
1. Morale of the officers and dispatchers. In a recent survey of officers and dispatchers, half the department stated they are unhappy, and the other half stated they are indifferent. Not one officer or dispatcher said they were happy. This is a big problem that the current City Marshal is not addressing. Why do citizens need to be concerned about officer and dispatcher morale? When morale is low it causes officers to be less productive. It causes them to not do their job or do the bare minimum. It has been proven that officers driving neighborhoods or even doing simple traffic enforcement deters crime. When criminals see police cars out in the public, they are less likely to commit crimes in the area. Low morale results in low officer productivity which results in crime increasing.
2. Officer and dispatcher turnover rate. Since 2017, when the current City Marshal was elected, we have lost 11 Police Officers/Sergeants and 19 dispatchers. The majority of these have been officers leaving to go work for different police departments. It takes 10-12 weeks to train a new officer. It takes a few thousand dollars to equip a new officer, the body armor alone is just under $800 and they are custom fit to the officer. While that officer is in training, they have a Field Training Officer (FTO) with them. While the FTO is observing the new officer, the two of them count as one officer. This takes an officer off the streets to observe the new officer. Having a high officer turnover rates means the officers and citizens can’t develop relationships since as soon as an officer builds that relationship they are quitting to go elsewhere. Over half of the patrol force has less than 3 years law enforcement experience. Some officers leave to go other departments for more opportunities. The majority leave because of low pay. Sugar Creek Police Officers are currently the second lowest paid police officers in Jackson and Clay Counties. A new dispatcher currently makes below the poverty level for the Kansas City area. The majority of our dispatchers have left due to low pay. Our dispatch center should be staffed with 6 full time dispatchers. It is rare that we have all positions staffed. Due to low staffing the department is regularly pulling officers from patrol or having officers work overtime to fill the openings. The problems with this are when an officer is pulled from patrol, that is one less officer on the road to answer emergency calls, or when they work overtime, we are paying a higher salary to fill openings. The greatest area of concern I have with this, is it takes 10 weeks to train a dispatcher. Many of these officers filling the dispatch openings have had only a few hours of training. This opens the department and city up to a huge liability if something were to happen. The current City Marshal is putting untrained officers in dispatch which in turn takes officers off the road and means the citizens must wait for a police officer to respond to their problem.
3. Crime rate. While the crime rates currently are not too bad, any crime is too much. They can always be lowered. Sugar Creek has a huge drug problem which brings in other crime. Recently we have also had an increase in assaults with firearms and domestic violence assaults continue to rise.
4. Modernize the police department and make it more efficient. Currently if an officer arrests a subject, there are up to 8 separate computer programs and/or pieces of paper which must be filled out to complete the booking and arrest procedure. Many of these 8 separate things which must be done are repetitive and are only being done because “that is how we have always done it”. The longer it takes for officers to complete their paperwork means the less time the officer can be out patrolling to deter crime. The current reporting system used by the department has been in use since 1997 and is not capable of half the stuff new modern report systems are capable of. It does not have the ability to map crime and we recently spent over $20,000 just to make it compliant with NIBRS (National Incident Based Reporting System, the FBI’s crime reporting system).
5. Social workers. I believe social workers can play a valuable role in law enforcement. To be clear, I do not feel social workers can or should replace Police Officers. Police Officers should still be the ones responding to calls. However, a large percentage of calls the police respond to cannot be solved by the police. Police Officers either do not have the appropriate training and/or the resources that social workers have available to them. Having an inhouse social worker who Police Officers can refer people too can help cut down on future calls and can also get the people the help they really need. My plan would be to hire a social worker (these positions can be funded by grants at no cost to the department) who can follow up on calls police officers respond to.