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Lincoln’s interim police chief leaves in February

Search is on for a replacement
By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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The city of Lincoln is in the process of hiring another interim police chief to replace Paul Shelgren when his contract is up in February.

“The best direction for the city is to hire an interim chief although the city should hire a full-time chief,” Lincoln City Manager Jim Estep said. “We don’t want to hire someone only to lay them off.”

Estep acknowledged that the Lincoln City Council also must make a decision about whether to contract with the Placer County Sheriff’s Department and CalFire. 

Mayor Spencer Short said contracting is being considered because the city needs to vet all of its alternatives for both cost and service.

“Right now, it appears most cost-effective to keep our own police and fire department,” Short said.

The City Council asked staff to research the cost and service level advantages and/or disadvantages of contracting out both public safety departments.

If the services can be offered at the same or a reduced cost than providing the services in-house, then the City Council would want to consider issuing a formal request for proposals for providing the services by contract, Estep said.

Estep said he is “looking at hiring someone from the region as an interim chief.”

The city manager also said he will ask local resources to provide names of eligible candidates.

“No matter what, we will need an interim chief,” Estep said. “We will be making a presentation to the council about contracting after the first of the year. The earliest the Sheriff’s Department and CalFire could physically take over operations is July 2013.”

Shelgren said he had suggested that city officials look for an interim chief while looking for a full-time chief.

Shelgren officially retired May 1 after working for the Lincoln Police Department as an officer, sergeant, lieutenant and interim chief over the course of his 27 years working at Lincoln Police Department. He became interim chief in January 2011.

As a retired annuitant, Shelgren earns $62,335 as interim police chief. The cost of a new police chief with benefits and at the lowest pay step is $86,391 a year, according to a previous News Messenger report.

Per California Public Employment Retirement System (PERS) rules, Shelgren is allowed to work up to 960 hours for the city of Lincoln until his time runs out in February. He now lives in Truckee.

Shelgren said he told city officials it is best to hire someone who is not tied to the PERS system.

“They could choose someone from out of state or someone from an agency that is not part of the PERS system such as Sacramento County, San Jose or some agencies in the Los Angeles area,” Shelgren said. “Some of the division commanders in the larger departments have more people working underneath them than Roseville or Rocklin. A person who is already invested in PERS may not want to come to a department where concessions have already been made.”

Estep said the salary for a new interim police chief would be negotiable with that individual.

“However, if the person is a retired annuitant from a PERS agency, the salary must be within the same salary range as a permanent police chief’s,” Estep said. “We would not have to pay the full benefit cost for a retired annuitant interim position.”

Incoming Mayor Stan Nader said “right now the city does not have the money to hire a full-time police chief so the city would look to fill that position with an interim chief.”

“The best option would be to hire a younger person as chief of police but our budget will not allow for that. If we did, that might mean taking more officers off the street and we don’t want to do that,” Nader said.

Shelgren said the department needs “someone willing to step up to the challenges and opportunities to rebuild the department. In a few years when the economy improves, the department will get back to where it was.”

In 2007, the department had 43 sworn officers and 13 non-sworn personnel. At present, the department has 19 sworn officers and eight non-sworn personnel.

Three officers are out on medical leave, with one officer out long-term. Two are expected to return by the end of December or mid-January.

“We have some overtime. We are trying to keep three officers on the streets at all times,” Shelgren said. “We are a bare-bones department. We have no support staff. There is one records clerk and one administrative assistant. The person who takes the job has to be self-sufficient and back up officers on the street when needed.”

Shelgren said he will miss Lincoln.

“It’s been my home even though I haven’t lived here the past few years,” Shelgren said. “You show up at 4:30 a.m. and don’t leave here until 9 p.m. or afterward on some days.”

After he retires, Shelgren and his wife will visit their daughter in the Army in Oklahoma. He also has a 20-year-old daughter who attends college in Reno.

“I’m going to travel and go skiing,” Shelgren said. “Northstar is 15 minutes from my home.”