Farmington — City Council's decision to move animal control officer and park ranger positions from the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department to the police department supervision gives those officers more responsibility and more authority.
Farmington's Deputy Chief of Police Keith McPheeters said the switch also will provide animal control officers with more training and equipment. The council's decision, which was made last week, will allow the animal control officers to issue more citations, he said.
Under the police department, an animal control officer can issue 16 additional charges for violation of city laws that include possession of alcohol and disorderly conduct, according to the ordinance.
Animal control officers were much more restricted before the change, McPheeters said.
"We've gone out of our way to augment what is possible for them to do," he said. "This is all about efficiency of operation."
Animal control officers also serve as park rangers, sometimes requiring them to cite aggressive or drunk people, he said. The ability to issue the additional charges will allow the animal control officers to more easily and safely do their job, he said.
Nine animal control officers will move to the supervision of the police department, and three will remain in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Deparment as staff for the city's new Regional Animal Shelter, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department Cory Styron said.
The additional routine police training will also keep the animal control officers safer when dealing with unpredictable people, he said. The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department doesn't have a training fund, Styron said.
Equipment, such as pepper spray, bite sticks and bite-proof gloves will keep the animal control officers safer when handling aggressive dogs, Animal Control Officer Robin Loev said. Loev said he has been bitten several times because he did not have proper equipment.
McPheeters said the police department has not yet decided what equipment it will provide its animal control officers.
Because police dispatch will handle all animal control officer communication, Loev also expects police officers will be able to respond quicker when he needs backup, he said.
"The one thing that I'm looking forward to is having support," he said.
Farmington City Council has moved animal control officers from the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department to the Police Department, which gives them more authority. The ordinance now allows animal control officers to issue 16 additional charges for violation of city laws related to:
- possession of alcohol
- driving on sidewalks
- riding a bicycle on sidewalks
- handicapped zones
- interfering with traffic
- obstruction of streets
- criminal damage to property
- disorderly conduct
- improper handling of fire
- loitering at night
- indecent exposure
- generally offensive conduct
- and unlawful entry of public facilities