Auburn police to add first lieutenant since 2009

Restructuring to cost no more than $20,000 annually
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn Police Department is adding a lieutenant by promoting a sergeant whose position will be filled internally. Here’s a look at the current annual base pay of Auburn Police Department employees. These figures do not include benefits.

Police chief: $133,344

Lieutenant: $71,652 – $87,096

Sergeant: $57,444 – $69,828

Detective: $52,044 – $63,264

Officer: $49,536 – $60,216

Trainee: $44,880 – $54,552

Dispatcher: $34,548 – $48,708

Source: City of Auburn


John Ruffcorn is getting some company at the top of the Auburn Police Department for the first time since he took over as chief in 2011, as his city-approved restructuring will add a lieutenant position to be internally filled by a sergeant.

The lieutenant will serve as the department’s No. 2 leader, reporting directly to Ruffcorn with decision-making authority in conjunction with him, as well as in his absence, Ruffcorn said.

“So many times, I’m kind of pulled in different directions,” he said. “And there’s a lot of different (occasions) … where they want somebody to come to a meeting or a speaking engagement that has the ability to make a decision for the department.”

Adding the position – and filling the vacated sergeant’s position internally with an officer who won’t be replaced – is estimated to cost the department no more than $20,000 annually, factoring in raises, longevity and other incentives, said Andy Heath, Auburn administrative services director.

Auburn police last had a lieutenant in January 2009, when Scott Burns retired after more than 30 years in law enforcement. Ruffcorn served as captain alongside Chief Valerie Harris until her 2011 retirement, and then he filled that position.

Harris had been filling in intermittently for Ruffcorn when he went on vacation or had to take time off, Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby said.

“We need somebody second in command. He needs some administrative help,” Kirby said. “He thinks there are people that are ready now. … It seemed like a good move all the way around, so we were all pretty supportive of it.”

When Ruffcorn was hired as captain, he wanted to set the standard that all management positions – lieutenant and captain – required a Bachelor’s Degree.

“In June of 2011, there was only one sergeant that met this requirement, and in my assessment, none of the sergeants were ready for a management role,” Ruffcorn wrote in his proposal to City Council, which it passed at its most recent regular meeting. “Since that time, I have had another sergeant obtain his Bachelor’s Degree, and I am pleased to announce that I believe we have two eligible candidates that are ready to compete for a lieutenant’s position.”

Ruffcorn declined to name the two candidates for the position, but said an announcement of the hiring is expected to be made around the beginning of March.

The candidates will interview with two panels, one of law enforcement experts and the other consisting of community leaders selected by Ruffcorn covering a variety of interests, he said.

Since 2008, the Auburn Police Department has downsized from 26 sworn officers to 20 and three command staff executives to one. Non-sworn personnel decreased from nine to seven.

Those changes can be attributed to various factors, including the great recession, employees looking for other opportunities, “hard work” and police management decisions, Ruffcorn said in his proposal.

“Regardless of the contributing factors, your police department is healthier today than it was five years ago,” Ruffcorn said. “However, there is still work to be done.”

The current structure of the department did not allow sergeants to get the training and opportunities they needed because of a lack of exposure to complex investigations and skill building training, he said.

Ruffcorn said the move will create more flexibility within the organization to address those issues.

Unless the effects of prisoner realignment are greater than anticipated, he does not foresee needing to add sworn personnel, but he does see a need for more non-sworn employees, such as a crime analyst, community service officer and administrative support, he said.


Jon Schultz can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews