SANATOGA PA – Hiring part-time police officers could be, but probably won’t be, a way to increase the safety of Lower Pottsgrove residents, the township Board of Commissioners’ Police Committee chairman and its police chief agreed Monday (July 7, 2014).
Lower Pottsgrove already employs 17 full-time officers on its police force with the latest addition, Kevin Black, hired at the end of May. It’s looking to add an 18th officer – a position already approved by commissioners – within coming weeks. The job opening has been advertised for almost a month, and applications are due by next Monday (July 14) at 9 a.m.
Why not hire part-time officers instead at a reduced wage?, former Commissioner Anthony Doyle asked during the board’s meeting. Other townships do, and the practice might have less of a budget impact, Doyle added. Policing is the largest expense in the township’s annual budget of more than $5.6 million
“I’m all for putting as many police officers on the street as the chief (Michael Foltz) thinks we need to be safe,” board Vice President and Police Committee Chairman Stephen Klotz responded, “and I’m not going to short-change the township with part-time police officers,” he said.
Klotz, who acknowledged he was speaking for himself and not the board, contended use of part-timers “would not necessarily save us money” and could potentially “leave other officers or township residents in harm’s way.”
Foltz himself expanded on the expense issue. The hiring of part-time officers would be an issue for collective bargaining under the township’s labor agreement with its unionized force, which even if considered would likely present higher costs, he noted.
Additionally, the chief said, the high turnover rate of part-timers makes them a less-than-desirable solution to police staffing. “They’re all looking for full-time work too,” Foltz said of part-timers, “and we’re still left with the hidden cost of training, a well as buying them uniforms and equipment.” Black, for example, held part-time policing jobs in Royersford and Spring City before being hired by Lower Pottsgrove.
The chief, during a report offered in January, said the township’s current and future growth may dictate a need for as many as 20 police officers. “We’re going to assess that as we go along,” board President Bruce Foltz promised.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ July 7 meeting):
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