Police Chief hopes for return to pre-recession staffing

Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:58 am

The Ashland Police Department took a step toward restoring pre-recession staffing levels with the addition of a temporary officer who will serve the remainder of the fiscal year.

Dec. 3, Chief Douglas Goodman Jr. received permission from town council to fill the temporary position, which will bring the APD up to 25 sworn officers, a level not seen since 2008.

Goodman said the department filtered two viable candidates out of 66 who applied during the last hiring process, one of whom they hired. The remaining candidate – a Randolph-Macon graduate who also interned with the APD – was put on hold.

The total cost for a new officer to enter the field equipped and ready for duty is $60,000. It costs the department about $2,571 to properly vet a successful candidate.

“We don’t want to waste the money putting him through the process and let him get scooped up by another agency, when we can try to think a little outside the box and hire him now,” Goodman said.

The next police academy begins in January, and the APD would take on its new officer sometime before it starts. They would be in the academy for most of the remaining fiscal year and would be able to go into the field immediately if the full position is funded in the upcoming budget.

“Hopefully the economy will support that. It’s been in our plan the last few years, but of course, the economy has not supported it,” Goodman said.

Goodman said the request for the temporary position did not come with any request for additional funding; his department had generated enough salary savings to cover the position until the end of the fiscal year.

Councilman James Foley asked Goodman whether he hoped for funding for an extra officer in the next budget.

“That’s what I’m hoping, but I’m not trying to put council in a box, either,” Goodman said. “I’m just trying to look out for the best interests of the community.”

The department should have 26 sworn officers by now, Goodman said, but the economy has not allowed for that staffing level.

“I think we’ve had enough evidence lately that the economy is supporting greater challenges for our public safety, so the need is more important,” said Councilman Steve Trivett. “It justifies that our economy needs to support this.”

The council vote was unanimous in favor of Goodman’s request.

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