The Manchester City Council has verbally approved removing the residency requirement for police officers and adding a lateral transfer compensation clause after two Manchester Police Department officers with over a decade of combined experience within the department have chosen to work in Dyersville.

Officers Matt Tauke and David Trumblee have each been with the department for more than six years, Manchester Police Chief James Hauschild said, making them difficult to replace.

After the Dyersville P.D. saw half a dozen officers leave last year for higher compensation elsewhere, the Dyersville City Council recently raised wages and waived its residency requirement in a bid to become more attractive to applicants.

“The gentlemen leaving for Dyersville are getting a $6-an-hour raise,” City Manager Tim Vick told the council, adding that given Dyersville isn’t requiring either to relocate, the decision to make the roughly 40-minute round trip commute wasn’t a difficult one.

With two open spots now on the Manchester P.D.’s roster, the council is attempting to make the department as competitive as possible in an increasingly shrinking pool of potential candidates.

“The challenge we face is to replace two very experienced officers at the same time,” Hauschild wrote in a request. “My desire is to recruit experienced certified officers to shorten the transition period. There are many departments in surrounding counties that have qualified officers that may be reluctant to apply because they will have to move their families to a new town.”

As for exactly how far away an applicant can reasonably live, Hauschild said he would like to keep an open mind and review things case-by-case.

“A lot of it depends on where you’re coming from and what your means are of getting here,” Hauschild said. “Obviously, we need to use common sense — we can’t have someone driving two hours.”

He said one of the best-case scenarios would be finding someone who would eventually like to relocate and establish roots in Manchester, but at this time they have to see what’s out there.

“It’s a balancing act — currently all but one of our officers own property and all but one lives in town,” Hauschild said. “So right now, I can afford to have a couple of people live a distance away. Do I have a concern about it? A little bit, but like I said it’s a balancing act.”

The changes being proposed by Hauschild are becoming commonplace across the state as more and more departments are struggling to compete with packages offered by comparable departments, who are all after the same dwindling pool of applicants.

“We need to be as competitive as we possibly can in the current law enforcement market to pull in some quality candidates,” Hauschild said.

The council also signaled they are willing to change the compensation formula to reflect an officer’s total years of experience in law enforcement rather than just how many years they’ve been with the Manchester P.D., which is also referred to as a “lateral transfer.”

In addition, the council has agreed to let Trumblee, who was the department’s K9 handler, purchase his K9 partner Ace for $10,000.

Hauschild, a former handler himself who also purchased his K9 when given the opportunity, said retraining Ace to work with another officer is not a simple task nor something he would ask anyone to do.

As for whether or not the department will be getting another K9 unit, Hauschild said he’ll know once he finds the right candidate to be a handler.

“Honestly, we’re probably talking a year or two down the road — it just depends on what we get for candidates,” Hauschild said. “They have to learn the town and build a rapport with them — I’ll know when it’s time.”

Hauschild said a newly trained K9 today would cost $13,500, but that price will likely only continue to get higher.

City Clerk Erin Learn said the funds they get from Trumblee will go into the police K9 fund, which will stay there until a decision is made.