As everyday citizens, we rely on our local police officers to keep us safe and manage crisis situations with competence. Last month, we had the chance to catch up Housing Trust Homeowners Lieutenant Roger Schultz and his wife Heidi. They both shared meaningful insight about how local housing affects the flow of work and home life.
Stewardship: Keeping Jackson Safe
As Todd Smith’s (Chief of Police) right hand, I can get calls throughout the weekend and into the middle of the night from officers needing my advice and direction. Living close to work is a benefit for me personally and for the police department. I can say that my wife, Heidi, and I have a completely different view of Jackson now that we live in the community. I commuted from Victor for years and during that time Jackson was just a paycheck. Now we are community members who have a vested interest.
Heidi: Roger used to be gone at least 12 hours per day when we lived in Victor. Now I have a spouse. We walk to work together and enjoy community events. Living in Jackson is a benefit for the entire family.
As the Lieutenant, part of my job is to recruit, train and retain our employees. Right now, our staff is a revolving door which I partially attribute to the lack of affordable housing. This revolving door comes with a cost. To advertise, hire and train an officer until they are fully prepared for duty costs the town about $60,000 per officer. There have been years when we’ve lost as many as five officers. That is a huge blow to the town budget and police morale.
"I believe one of the strongest indicators that an officer will stay for a significant amount of time is the purchase of a home."
-Lieutenant Roger Schultz
When you lose an officer, you lose the training and experience that comes with being on the job. Officers are usually just getting into their role and understanding the nuances of Jackson at around three years. But that’s also about the time they burn out from commuting or paying high rent and realize they can’t live where they work. Bottom line, getting officers to come to Jackson is easy, getting them to stay is challenging.
I believe one of the strongest indicators that an officer will stay for a significant amount of time is the purchase of a home. This shows they are committed to being in Jackson and policing our community. Affordable housing options increase the likelihood this will happen. It strengthens our department as well as our community.