Blair council re-posts police chief position with raise

With only three applicants the first time around, the Blair city council voted to repost the chief of police position, this time offering more money.

Interim chief Randy Jensen provided a report to the council telling them they received just three applicants, only one of which he would consider hiring. The reason for the lack of interest, he thought, was because the advertised salary was significantly lower than what is paid by other municipalities.

Jensen said police chiefs in Arcadia, Independence, Whitehall, Galesville, Strum, Osseo and Trempealeau average $29.64 per hour, whereas Blair was advertising rates between $22 and $26 per hour. Former chief Tim Wheeler was paid $26.01 per hour. 

“Most cops in the county make more than that as officers,” Jensen said.

Jensen also pointed out that Blair officers make roughly $5 per hour fewer than officers in other city’s and that Blair officer Jordan Pride is the lowest-paid officer in the county. 

Council members questioned if the other chiefs made more because they worked in larger municipalities, but Jensen pointed out that the difference in population wasn’t significant. He also fielded a question about the experience of the other chiefs, but noted that several had been on the job for fewer than five years. 

“With all the challenges we’ve had over the last two years, we have to get back on track. It’s causing too much turmoil in the community,” Wanda Cartrette, alderperson, said. “We really need to get it right. If we have one candidate and we’re at this discussion that leads me to believe we need to open it up.”

The council voted to repost the job, offering between $28 and $30 per hour. The three candidates who previously applied will be contacted and told they are free to apply again.  

Of the two candidates Jensen said he didn’t think were qualified, he said one previously interviewed for the officer position that went to Pride. The other, he said, had some issues come up in a background check.

In addition to more money, the new police chief will have new equipment.

With the current squad car going in for repairs again last week, the council voted to purchase a new pickup for $18,955 with an additional $4,500 to switch equipment — including the design on the outside of the vehicle — from the old vehicle to the new vehicle. The city is trading in the current vehicle for $15,000. 

The council also voted to purchase a new computer for the police department for $2,413.94. 

Jensen also reported that crime has increased in Blair since 2019. He noted that calls for theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, runaways and animal complaints are all up more than 100 percent from last year. Sex offenses and traffic calls are down, however, he noted part of the decrease in the traffic citations was because council members asked the department to not enforce those infractions as much.  


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