Delmont officials working to limit turnover in police department
In 2016, Delmont officials added a fifth full-time officer to its police department in an effort to hold down overtime costs accrued by its part-time officers.
In 2019, they decided to drop back down to four full-time officers in an effort to retain both part-time and full-time police after several left for jobs in other departments.
Turnover in local police departments is certainly not unique to Delmont: the Tribune-Review recently spoke with law enforcement officials all over western Pennsylvania who are struggling with staffing and balancing part-time and full-time needs.
That doesn’t make Delmont Chief T.J. Klobucar feel any better.
“Obviously, the borough can’t compete with police departments in every municipality,” he said. “We’ve had an officer leave for a job with Murrysville, and we just had another officer who got a full-time position in Green Tree.”
Borough council voted Tuesday night on a renegotiated police contract which adds several provisions aimed at retaining police, including:
• A deferred retirement option plan, or DROP, in which an employee who would normally be eligible to retire and receive related benefits is permitted to continue working. A lump sum of money is placed into an account for each year that employee remains on the job, to be paid out upon full retirement. In the new contract, Delmont police who are age 50 or older with 12 years of service in the department can enroll in DROP.
• A longevity benefit for officers who remain with the department.
• Designation of a “senior part-time officer” position, which would pick up some of the hours previously worked by a fifth full-time officer.
“We can take that money that would’ve gone to a fifth officer, spread it around to our other officers, and now I’m able to have a senior part-time positions where I can guarantee them 32 hours a week and pay up to $18 per hour,” Klobucar said. “What I wanted to make sure we were doing is saving money, paying officers more and functioning essentially the same.”
The new police contract begins April 1, and runs through Dec. 31, 2023.
“We’re going to save the borough money, and incentivize our officers to stay,” Klobucar said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .