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Police chief tries to bolster ranks
The police chief hopes to hire experienced officers who can begin work quickly to fill vacant slots.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
NORTHAMPTON - The Police Department is moving ahead with its first-ever noncivil service hiring of officers because a shortage of manpower, says Chief Russell J. Sienkiewicz.

Retirements and resignations have left the department six officers short of its full complement of 59, and two more retirements are anticipated, said Sienkiewicz this week.

In addition, two officers are out on family-medical leaves, and one is in the military reserve, he said. Two officers left recently to join the State Police, and several others are exploring the same option, he said.

"It's putting us in a difficult situation," Sienkiewicz said.

In December, the City Council adopted a resolution asking the Legislature to approve a bill removing patrol officers from civil service. This would free the city from restrictions and delays.

The bill is pending, and Sienkiewicz said he expects it to be passed later this year. Anticipating its approval, the chief said he is moving forward with compiling a list of candidates.

Although the bill has not been approved, another law approved in 1987 allows the city to move forward with hiring where there is a personnel shortage, the chief pointed out.

If the civil service process was used, it would take up to a year for a new officer to be taken on board, he said.

Sienkiewicz is hoping to hire officers who have received Police Academy training. They must have worked for two years full time or three years part time.
 
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