Grover Beach police will hire a retired detective to temporarily fill a full-time position that has been empty since October, taking the department one step closer to maintaining proper staffing levels.
The Grover Beach City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to waive a 180-day hiring exception and authorized the department to hire Dan Langstaff, a former Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande police detective who retired from the Arroyo Grande agency last year.
The hire will allow the department to handle its investigative caseload while a recently promoted officer trains for the permanent detective role, one of several new hires and reassignments as the department makes gains in maintaining proper staffing levels.
He has a vast knowledge and training that we can really use right now.
Grover Beach police Chief John Peters
Langstaff — who served as a detective sergeant with Grover Beach before transferring to the Arroyo Grande department in 2001, at one point supervising its detectives bureau — will work on the department’s backlog of pending cases while Senior Officer Brad Carey undergoes six months of required training when he is reassigned to a detective position in February, police Chief John Peters said.
Peters said the department’s work on investigative cases has suffered in recent months following the retirement of the department’s only detective. The agency previously staffed two full-time detectives before budget woes in 2009 forced it to cut one position.
“This has led to some minor misdemeanor cases that were delayed in getting fully investigated, because the staff that was now doing the investigations was also answering new calls for service,” Peters told the City Council. “So they were trapped between taking new cases and investigating the pending cases.”
Peters said the staffing shortage has created a backlog in investigating nonemergency cases such as property crimes. Though qualified patrol officers have pitched in when needed, he said, those investigations keep them from their primary duties.
“We have to have enough officers on the streets,” he said.
Under California law, the city is authorized to appoint a retiree to fill a vacant position during an emergency, but that appointee cannot work more than 960 hours per fiscal year and his or her pay may not exceed the maximum monthly base salary paid to other comparable employees. In Grover Beach, that comes to $6,185 per month, or $35.68 per hour. As a retired officer, Langstaff does not qualify to receive additional benefits and is not required to join the police officers union.
The cost to hire him, which will total $21,000 by June 30, will be covered by existing budgeted funds saved through staff vacancies.
Peters said the city advertised for the temporary position but did not receive any other applicants.
“When you’re (advertising) for a position like this, you’re essentially dealing with retirees,” Peters said. “With Dan, it was hard to pass up. He has a vast knowledge and training we can really use right now.”
The department also is awaiting the arrival in April of a recently hired officer, and two other hires straight out of the police academy are scheduled to be sworn in Feb. 1. The department is still looking to hire one full-time officer and one part-time dispatcher.
Staff writer Kaytlyn Leslie contributed reporting.