Council Approves Nome Police Additions, New Officer and Police Car

Monday night’s Nome City Council meeting began with City Clerk Bryant Hammond swearing in the newest member of the Nome Police Department, Austin Martino.

Martino is originally from New York and new to NPD, though he says he has been living in Nome and working for TSA for about three years. With this new addition there are now eight officers on the department. The budget allows for seven officers, though former Police Chief, Bob Estes, wrote to the Council in an October meeting that he feels there should be ten.

Last night, the Council also approved a resolution for a new NPD police car: a Ford Expedition at a cost of $55,680 but that was done retroactively. Purchases over $40,000 need to be approved by the Council, but City Manager Glenn Steckman, explained that historically that hasn’t been done in Nome.

“I think this goes back to what some staff, and I think its been going on for a period of time, [thought] if the money was budgeted by the Council as part of the budgetary process then there was a belief that they could go out and purchase it.”

Steckman says there are likely other purchases that were done incorrectly and will require retroactive Council approval. He doesn’t believe the purchases were done with any malicious intent but says he will be working with department heads to put clearer processes for budgeting and approvals in place.

The Nome police aren’t the only entity in town looking for a new vehicle.

The Council also passed a resolution expressing their support for the Nome Coordinated Transportation plan. That support does not require the City to contribute any money but does help the Nome Community Center meet grant requirements from the Alaska Community Transit Office so they can purchase a new bus for the XYZ Senior Center.

At the end of his City Manager’s report, Steckman said he doesn’t have many applicants for the Chief of Police or Finance Director Position. He says that a low-salary offer may be a reason for that.

“I think $100,000- $105,000 is just too low for that type of position even if you were looking at bringing in an interim police chief in.”

Steckman says his opinion on the salary is partially based on conversations he’s had with Greg Russell after the November police department audit. Full results from that audit have not yet been released.

Monday night’s regular meeting concluded with the City Council confirming Mayor Richard Beneville’s choice of Greg Smith for Planning Commission Seat E. The Council has their next scheduled meeting on December 23rd.

Image at top: Austin Martino is sworn in as an officer for NPD during a regular City Council meeting. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2019).