Archive for Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A conversation with two Eudora chiefs

August 11, 2010

This has been a busy year, full of turnover, for Eudora public safety. The city has welcomed two new officials to the top jobs in both the police and fire departments. Several months after taking over, the chiefs said they’re quickly learning how to protect the town on small budgets.

“We really have to scrutinize every single thing and every item to make sure we’re getting the best bang for the buck that we’re paying for,” said Police Chief Grady Walker said, Eudora police chief.

Walker was initially named the interim police chief when Greg Dahlem retired from the job on April 1. Walker officially received the chief’s position less than one month later. “It’s been quite exciting learning all the nuances of things I didn’t know,” Walker said.

Chris Moore became the interim chief of the fire department in mid-January. He took over for Randy Ates, who resigned in December.

Moore is busy heading up two fire departments now. He just accepted the part-time fire chief position in Eudora, while he also continues to serve as chief in Wakarusa Township. During a July city council meeting Moore was offered the job to be chief of Eudora Fire. He agreed to the offer this week.

About the new duties in Eudora, Moore said, “Public safety, it’s always going to be there; we can continue to operate, we’re just not going to be able to expand and grow, maybe at the pace we’d like to.”

The men said that because they are both fairly new to their roles in Eudora, they’re able to relate well.

“We’ve been able to foster a good working relationship between the two of us; I think that of itself is going to be really helpful in determining what the needs are for the city in a complete public safety aspect,” Walker said.

The men said budget constraints are their biggest obstacle right now. Like most other communities across the state, they said they’re being forced to cut costs,

“That’s impacted everybody across the board,” Moore said. “We’re trying to find ways to be more efficient, more effective with what we have or what we don’t have.”

Walker said the police department may have to reduce hours for part-time officers, to accommodate a shrinking budget.

“We haven’t made any real decisions on that point.”

Although Moore would not say definitively, consolidating services or departments may be a way that he can save money.

“There will be a lot of changes from staffing and trying to become more efficient and effective with what we have,” he said.

Despite their financial concerns, both men said improvements are on the horizon for their departments.

Walker said his goal is to involve the community more in policing issues and to make his office transparent.

“The biggest goal is to put in place a community policing place, where we can invite the public to meet with us and provide us some safe keeping and safe guarding issues,” he said.

Moore, who operates a department staffed by volunteer firefighters, said making sure emergency workers are able to respond quickly to incidents will be a primary focus as he looks ahead.

“There’s a lot of stuff in town during the day, and that need to be addressed as far as staffing during the daytime.”

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