As Mayor Wood has asserted on many occasions, there is no service provided by local government more vital than public safety. Mishawaka’s proactive approach to police work continues to keep the City of Mishawaka a safe place to live, work and raise a family. The constant patrols, painstaking detective work, active community involvement, and focused training are all fundamental strengths of the department. Mayor Wood continues to be thankful every day for the outstanding work that is performed daily by the Mishawaka Police Department.
Mayor Wood is extremely excited about a new and innovative police staffing approach recently approved by the Mishawaka Common Council. The new staffing model will consistently increase our MPD shift strength and at the same time significantly increase the compensation, making MPD officers some of the highest paid in the state. The fresh and innovative MPD approach and newly approved ordinance will have Mishawaka police officers working 12-hour shifts.
With the approval by the Mishawaka Common Council, Mishawaka Police officers will start in January to work 12-hour work shifts, seven days out of a 14-day cycle. Mayor Wood believes that it’s a win- win situation both for the community and the MPD officers.
The 12-hour work shift would not raise the department’s overall budget. It will eventually be giving officers a significant increase in overall compensation making them some of the highest paid officers in the state starting January of 2024.
This very strategic move is essentially budget neutral. It also allows for the City of Mishawka and MPD to provide better coverage for our needs within the uniform division with a fewer number of overall officers allowing the MPD to put that many more squad cars onto the street.
The MPD has been understaffed for quite some time and thus new solutions were sought. As a result, Rich Freeman and the FOP brought the proposal to administration a year ago.
Mishawaka Police Chief Ken Witkowski, Jr communicated with Mayor Wood that we’re in great competition with other agencies– South Bend, County, Elkhart, us. So, we’re all competing in the same pool of people to hire qualified police officers.
That’s why there has been great collaboration between the administration, Common Council under the leadership of President Gregg Hixenbaugh, the Fraternal Order of Police, and MPD leadership, and overall, the FOP membership is in favor of the novel staffing approach.
MPD officers starting January 1st will work seven days out of a 14-day cycle with every other weekend off. This agreement will allow the MPD to move to a minimum shift strength of 12 officers on patrol and as many at 16. This proposed innovative approach would essentially allow our MPD to do more with less overall officers.
Mayor Wood stated, “I want to commend the FOP leaders, MPD leadership and our Mishawaka Common Council for not just proposing this innovative approach, but collaboratively negotiating an extraordinary agreement. This has been an extraordinary collaborative effort. Under the leadership of Council President Hixenbaugh, the Mishawaka Common Council has worked diligently with my administration, the FOP and MPD leadership every step of the way.”
Mayor Wood also communicated that, “We have every reason to believe, much more often, there could be as many as 16 police officers on patrol each and every day serving the needs of Mishawaka. We also believe that the new staffing model may also lower police response time.”
Mayor Wood has a great deal of confidence in our MPD officers working in coordination with Mishawaka Police administration and their ability to be able to work through and navigate the issues involved with working longer shifts. The Mishawaka Police Department administration who will monitor the transitional issues closely as well as well as provide additional support.
Mayor Wood is in agreement with Chief Witkowski, Council President Hixenbaugh and FOP President Freeman who believe that this will be a win-win, for everybody and especially our Mishawaka citizens because of the ability to put more officers on the streets.