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Budget contraints behind decision to hire 6 part-time officers

| Sunday, Dec. 9, 2001

Edgewood police Superintendent Brooks Wright would like to have an entirely full-time police force, but he says he has to live within the financial realities of the borough for which he works.

"The borough has only so much money it can spend," Wright said Thursday. As a result, officials have opted to hire six part-time police officers at a starting pay rate of $9.50 per hour. The part-time officers will not receive fringe benefits. Full-time police officers get a starting salary of $31,175 a year.

If their backgrounds check out OK, Michael DeMarco, Robert Shapiro, Shelby Gibson, Frank Chianese Jr., Troy Garrett and Brandon Shields will be sworn in Dec. 17, Wright said.

Shields and Chianese already interact with Edgewood police because they work as part-timers in nearby boroughs. Shields works in nearby Braddock Hills, and Chianese works for Braddock Hills and neighboring Swissvale.

Shields, Chianese and Garrett, who currently works part time in Elizabeth Township, could be patrolling in Edgewood as soon as Dec. 18, if all goes well, Wright said.

Wright said the part-timers - who council voted to hire this week - are qualified, and he says he is going to need them to help cover a patrol schedule that he says might be decimated by resignations in the coming weeks.

Wright said four of Edgewood's part-time police officers are on the civil service list in nearby Wilkinsburg and are in line to be hired.

Wilkinsburg police Chief Mark Springer said his borough council has budgeted the hiring of six full-time officers in the new year. He said a civil service list for Wilkinsburg is complete.

Wright said another of his officers is currently being courted by several other communities and could resign shortly.

The roster in Edgewood has been further depleted by the fact that two more officers, Danny Caputo and Johnny Ficarelli, were hired recently by Pittsburgh.

Should all six part-timers approved by council be sworn in, that would give Wright a force of 13 part-time and six full-time officers, including himself.

Wright said the borough receives federal Community Oriented Policing Services grants to put more full- and part-time officers on the street.

But he said the relatively low crime rate in Edgewood is a limiting factor in how much in federal Community Development Block Grants the borough can apply to law enforcement.

Wright does hold out hope that the borough will hire three full-time officers next year.

He said some of the part-timers being hired now could be candidates for those full-time positions.

Like Wright, Council Vice President Jean Daven thinks financial constraints are the main barrier to Edgewood getting a full-time police force.

She said council is going to try to hire more full-time officers next year with the hope that the entire force will eventually be full time.

"We're heading in that direction," Daven said.

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