Brackenridge police ‘desperate for applicants,’ councilman says
Back in September, Brackenridge officials issued a desperate call for part-time police applicants. Eight months later, that situation hasn’t changed.
The borough continues to find itself as part of an alarming trend plaguing small municipalities throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“We’re desperate for applicants,” Councilman John Stanzione said Thursday. “We will interview anyone and everyone.”
The borough has four full-time officers but it has always depended on part-time officers to fill in shifts and provide coverage when full-time officers are on vacation or sick leave.
The department had two part-time officers when Stanzione, the police committee chairman, and Mayor Tom Kish made a public plea for more applicants in September. Part-time officers are paid $14 per hour.
Stanzione said the department has only one part-time officer. As a result, Council President Tim Connelly said full-time officers are working more hours, resulting in increasing costs for overtime pay.
“We need at least two more, two or three,” Kish said at that time.
While Stanzione said the borough is “desperate” for applicants, he said the situation has not reached a critical stage.
“We’re not to the point where we’re having unmanned shifts,” Stanzione said.
Resident Tom Nelson asked if borough officials have considered merging departments with another municipality such as Harrison. He said that would seem like a logical solution to the problem and perhaps save the borough money.
He pointed out that the local departments back each other up regularly on incidents in each other’s community.
“It’s on the table,” Stanzione said of that possibility. “But my personal opinion is that even with (the borough) being only one square mile, having our own department provides more personal service.
“Our guys can pretty much go down any street and know what cars are supposed to be there and which ones are aren’t,” he said.
Police Chief Justin McIntire agreed with Nelson’s point about mutual aid between departments. But he said that if the departments merged and a serious incident such as a homicide took place in the partner community, there might not be anyone available to answer another call in Brackenridge.
But he conceded that merging police services would not be strictly a negative.
“It has its pluses, and it has its minuses,” McIntire said.
Connelly said he does not know how much longer the situation can continue.
“We’re going to have to do something pretty soon,” he said.