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APD plans to change forensic specialist position to civilian position

The Abilene Police Department is hoping to change a position held by an officer to a civilian position soon, which they can do if the Abilene City Council authorizes the City Manager to hire one.

APD has had three forensic specialists since 2008, with two sworn officers and a civilian serving in those positions. Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said he wants to change that.

"Really, what I want to do is civilianize all the positions in forensics to again keep the sworn-in key positions elsewhere," Standridge said.

In January, one of the officers who served as a forensic specialist was transferred to the patrol division.

The other officer will be retiring in March 2019, which means there will only be one forensic specialist, which could be a major issue, according to Standridge.

"State law mandates that two latent print examiners have to check each other's work in order for it to be accepted in the court system," Standridge said.

If they’re left with just one specialist, they’ll have to outsource to other police departments to check their work, which will put them behind on their workload, according to Standridge.

It can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to certify a new employee and that's why Standridge said this needs to be filled soon.

“This is a pressing issue,” Standridge said. “I need to hurry up and get a second civilian hired and then I need to push that civilian into as many certification courses as possible to try to get them certified in 12 months."

He said they want to get as many officers out on the streets and out of non-traditional law enforcement positions. He also said the civilian salary isn’t as high as the sworn officers’ salary, so this would save them money. The salary and benefits of the position add up to $53,403.

Standridge said they have sufficient revenue to pay for this position through the end of the fiscal year, so they won’t need to ask citizens for more money.

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