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Leetsdale police chief wants new full-time officer

| Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, 1:18 p.m.

The Leetsdale Police Department is stretched thin, prompting Chief Daniel Raible to ask borough leaders to hire another full-time officer.

“Nobody wants to do this job anymore, folks,” said Raible, addressing the audience during Leetsdale Council's Nov. 9 meeting. “It's tough to keep part-timers here.”

The department boasts four full-time and six part-time officers. Hiring another full-time patrolman would cost Leetsdale about $14,000. Two versions of the 2018 proposed budget — one with a new officer factored in, one without — are now available for public review.

Raible praised the current part-timers on his force, but said there has been a revolving door of employees over the years. Frustrated by lack of hours, many new hires leave to find steadier work in neighboring communities or become lackadaisical in their Leetsdale duties. Borough funds spent on their uniforms, equipment and training are, therefore, wasted, he said.

A veteran member of the Leetsdale force, Raible was promoted to chief in 2016. He said he spent six years working part-time for various police departments.

“It's a thankless job,” he said. “You don't get down time. You don't get a break.”

The chief said he wanted a full-time officer who would be dedicated to the department, borough residents and the area.

When council member Thomas Belcastro stated that the current staff doesn't interact enough with local residents, Raible said he wanted to do more community policing, but noted that his small staff was focused on getting drugs — particularly heroin — off of the streets.

A decision on hiring a full-time officer will be made before the end of the year.

Council member Linda Michael, who serves on the finance and budget committee, said the constant turnover of part-timers is a big problem.

“It weakens the department and our status as a community,” she said. “It is very well worth our consideration to contemplate this request for another officer.”

Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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