By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Wednesday was Grant Bailey’s first day as Saltillo’s police chief but he has been the department’s commanding officer for more than two weeks now.
Bailey became the commanding officer in the department due to the pending retirement of then-Chief Steve Brooks and the suspension of the city’s assistant police chief.
He said the to-do list for the department is long.
“Right now, I’m trying to get the new guys squared away with uniforms, badges, badge numbers and scheduling,” he said of the two new part-time and one relatively new full-time officer hired by the city.
The department has been short-handed since before the suspension of the assistant chief and another officer. Bailey said filling his department’s roster is high on the to-do list.
The department’s budget allows for 10 full-time officers and is currently running with six full-time officers and six part-time and reserve officers.
“We’ll get there soon but the city is fully covered,” he said. “I would like to be at full staff by the end of August. I’m going to be as patient as I can with the board of aldermen and mayor. I know they have a lot going on so I’m not going to push as much, but I’ll still push a little.”
If the city continues to expand the way it has, Bailey said he expects to have a 20-man department in five years, running three-man shifts as opposed to the current two-man shifts.
As the community grows, he said he wants the department to be active in local businesses.
“I want to get with the neighborhoods and start a neighborhood watch program,” he said. “And, we’re going to be very proactive in our schools.”
Mayor Rex Smith said he has been impressed with Bailey.
“When all of this happened, (Bailey) was forced into the role of commanding officer,” Smith said. “Saltillo needs to be proud that we have someone who would step up like that. He has put in some time for the city at the expense of family time.”
Bailey was named chief by the Saltillo Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night.