SALISBURY — To get more sworn members of the police force out of the office and into the field, Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan successfully petitioned the City Council Monday for permission to change the agency’s quartermaster position into a civilian role.
“Essentially, we are looking to completely civilianize our quartermaster position and get another sworn officer out into the street,” Duncan said.
According to Duncan, the quartermaster is responsible for ordering equipment, supplies and weapons for the department as well as making sure that all stay functional. The quartermaster also schedules all vehicle maintenance. As of last week, the position was staffed by a police corporal with a civilian assistant. But Duncan told the council she would like to transfer that officer to active duty and allow the civilian assistant to move up.
All of the council members agreed that getting the most use out of every trained and sworn police officer in the city is a priority. However, Councilman Tim Spies pointed out that the quartermaster orders all firearms for the department.
“What sort of weapons training is this individual going to have, this civilian?” he asked Duncan.
A civilian quartermaster will not require any weapons training, said Duncan, because he or she will only be responsible for ordering firearms and scheduling inspections.
“He is not the department armorer,” she said. “He is responsible for conducting annual inspections of all of these weapons to see that they are all in proper working order. He is not an armorer though, by any stretch of the imagination.”
This is not the first time the city has decided to transfer an officer-held administrative position over to a civilian. Two similar positions were evaluated to see if they could be accomplished solely by civilians, according to Duncan.
However, the department has never had a civilian quartermaster, a role which traditionally pairs an officer with a civilian assistant. Duncan asked the council to leave open the possibility of granting the new quartermaster an assistant.
“Since this has never been done before with our agency, we requested the assistant position remain active but vacant at this time, in the event that we find the duties are so overwhelming that one person cannot do that position by himself,” she said.
The council agreed to all of Duncan’s requests and unanimously congratulated her for working to streamline the force.