BILLINGS — The first four civilian officers in Billings are officially on staff, and they are currently being trained to do a little bit of everything, including taking reports, processing crime scenes and taking fingerprints.
After three weeks of being trained in the classroom, the community service officers, or CSOs, are one month into their six weeks of field training.
“We are looking to build some of that customer service base and follow-up on some of these cases that sometimes the officers take a long time to get to because of staffing or the call load. And we don’t want people to wait any longer than they have to,” Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick said Monday.
Lennick said with the $2.45 million in funding the police department received from the $7 million public safety mill levy voters passed in 2021, they plan to hire three more CSOs for a total of seven civilian officers.
Although they are still in training, Lennick said it has been very helpful having the four on staff.
“It has been well received from patrol. We are extremely excited about it,” he said.
The CSOs only handle scenes with no suspects, such as vandalism, theft, criminal mischief or found property cases. They also respond to parking complaints or burglaries with no suspects. A CSO cannot pull someone over and write them a ticket. Lennick said if a CSO is taking a report that develops a suspect, the case will be returned to patrolling officers.
In the four weeks in the field, the community service officers have responded to 115 calls for service and written over 50 case reports, according to Lennick.
The police department plan on hiring the three other CSOs when they get more vehicles and equipment for them to use.