Usually, two less means there would be a savings.
That is not the case with the Whitehall Police Department.
“When we went from five to four full-time officers, there was a little bit of a cost savings,” said Police Chief Matthew Dickinson at the April 6 village board meeting. “When we went from four to three, there was no savings at all because of the overtime that we have been paying.”
Dickinson said that the drop in two full-time police officers resulted from a pair of recent departures, one to Waterford in December and the second to Granville last month.
“In the last six months, we have lost these two full-time officers,” said Dickinson. “Dickie (LaChapelle) and I have been working with the schedules to keep everything full with minimal coverage.”
The department’s most recent loss of Mark Morrill to Granville came seven months after the officer had graduated from training. Because of that, Dickinson said that the department should be able to get money from Granville to “recoup” what they paid in his training and wages.
“Under General Municipal Law, we have a three year time period from the time that he was trained that we can collect on,” said Dickinson. “Mark graduated in July and was gone seven months later, so we can recoup 83-percent of all his training expenses and salary from Granville.”
Dickinson also said that he is looking into doing the same with another officer.
“We have a problem retaining officers,” added Dickinson. “It’s a money thing and it has always been a money thing. As far as trained officer, no one is knocking down the door to come here.”
Dickinson requested that the village board hire Daniel Price, a resident of the village, to fill one of the full time positions.
“H is not trained at the moment, but I believe that he is qualified,” said Dickinson .”He has served three tours in Iraq and will be receiving his second degree in criminal justice.”
Trustee Mike LaChapelle said that he was concerned that bringing another un-trained officer in would lead to the same problems as before.
“We send these people to school, the village pays for it and then they leave holding us with the bill,” said LaChapelle.
Dickinson responded that he hoped hiring someone who lived locally would help in keeping them from leaving.
“They may not stay, and I can’t guarantee that anyone would stay,” said Dickinson. “but maybe, if you get a local kid with the connection to the village and the area, maybe that would stay here.”
Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti asked Dickinson if the decision could wait until the April 20 meeting of the board.
“Yeah, but I really want to get the ball rolling on this by then,” replied Dickinson.