Fowler's Town Council met Monday, the first gathering since the police force resigned en masse last Thursday.
Stafon Stevens, owner of a security company from Colorado Springs, expressed an interest in providing “security” to the Town of Fowler on a round-the-clock basis, at a price of $20 per hour. Stevens said his security officers are not POST-certified but are certified in firearms, handcuffing and batons.
Stevens presented his offer as a temporary solution until a police chief and officers can be interviewed and hired. Council members took no action on Stafon's offer.
“We were caught flat-footed," said Fowler Mayor Nathan Schultz about the police officers' resignation.
"I received a text on Saturday evening from our police chief saying he would not be coming back to work in Fowler,” he said.
Schultz went on to say, “I would like to express a huge thank you to the Otero County Sheriff’s Office for picking up the slack and assisting our community. We are not under a state of emergency and not under martial law.”
Salary is the presumed culprit for the sudden resignation of the police force. Starting pay for Police Chief is $41,600.00 with POST certified officers receiving $32,000.00. These sigures do not include any overtime pay.
Town Treasurer Cindy Karle said, “Fifteen hours of overtime per officer, per week, would cost the town $55,000 per year, which we do not have in our budget.”
Town Administrator Kelly Lotrich is searching for grants that would provide funding for law enforcement staff. However, Trustee Andy Lotrich said, “We must have a chief of police to sign off on the grants.”
An interview committee consisting Schultz, Otero County Undersheriff Wallace, Trustee Tracy Nelson and Kelly Lotrich will meet next week and start the interview selection process.
“We can’t just hire to hire, we need people that are going to be committed to our community," said Andy Lotrich. "It’s not all about the pay, we have a lot to offer: outstanding school system, day care, low cost of living and a great community."
In other town business, council members accepted a bid from Crawford Roofing and Construction LLC., in the amount of $13,850 for roof repairs to 317 S. Main Street and 2402 Cottonwood Lane. The motion to accept was made by Trustee Nelson with Trustee Carnes seconding.
Approval of an Alcohol Tasting Permit for Red Top Liquor was approved.
Appointment of Nelson as proxy voter for the Town of Fowler at the Colorado Water Protection District Association (CWPDA) meeting was passed with a motion by Trustee Carnes and cecond by Andy Lotrich.
Appointment of Andy Lotrich as a primary proxy voter for the Town of Fowler at the Colorado Rural Water Association meeting, with Town Trustee Shawn Swope named as alternate proxy, was passed with a motion by Carnes and seconded by Nelson.
The next meeting of the Fowler Town Council is Feb. 11. Meetings are open to the public.