“City Government 101” is an ongoing series that debuted in April 2023 and highlights different aspects of municipal government as it pertains to Columbus, Nebraska, in hopes to provide information on how the City of Columbus operates.
Every City of Columbus department head was recently asked some questions in regard to their department, the current fiscal year budget and plans for their department in the upcoming fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2023-Sept. 30, 2024).
DEPARTMENT HEAD: Charles Sherer
(Interview conducted in September 2023)
Q: How many people are in your department?
A: Authorized 38 sworn officers; five civilian staff.
Q: How long have you been head of your department?
A: Since 2017.
Q: How do you think things went for your department in fiscal year 2022-2023?
A: We continue to deal with staff shortages, but overall, things went well. According to the crime commission, we have the second-lowest crime rate in our array of cities. That speaks well of the quality and character of the Police staffing.
Q: What were at least two of your department’s biggest accomplishments in the last fiscal year?
A: First was receiving state accreditation; Second was receiving grant for the robot.
Q: What are some of the problems your department faced in the last fiscal year and how did you overcome them?
A: Staffing shortages; every agency is having these problems. No one seems to have a satisfactory answer. We are trying to think outside the box by considering a part-time officer program and an apprenticeship program. We already participate in an internship program which is where one of our last police hires came from.
Q: What are at least 3 major things you’re wanting your department to accomplish in fiscal year 2023-2024 and how is the new budget going to improve that?
A: The biggest issue is officer recruitment; next issue would be officer retention; [The new budget] would allow us to keep our crime rates low, our crimes-solved ratio high and maintain quality of life for our constituents. The third item would be to address mental health and well-being; particularly in tenured officers.
Q: What can the public expect from your department in the next fiscal year?
A: Our plan is to continue to provide quality law enforcement to our community. Hopefully fill vacated positions to reach full staffing; maintain professional services and continue interacting with the community.
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