By Jeff Gallatin
City officials continue to work toward bringing the police department to staffing levels sought by the administration.
Eric Morgan was promoted from patrolman to sergeant and new patrolman Joseph Ganelli was sworn in to the department in late January. In addition, police Chief Jamie Gallagher said the department is working on interviews and background checks as the prelude to hiring two additional new patrol officers. Gallagher said Ganelli and one of the two yet to be hired officers will fill positions left open by the city’s firing in late 2013 of veteran patrolmen Brian Bielozer and Chris Fox. The other new patrol officer will take a position city administration officials said they would bring in because the North Olmsted school district assumed most of longtime school resource officer Jim Carbone’s salary.
Gallagher said Morgan’s promotion and the planned hire of the two new officers should eventually help the department’s patrol shifts run better. Bringing in the two additional officers would bring the department up to 45 officers.
“When we get all these people out on the streets it should help make our shifts a little more balanced,” Gallagher said. “We’ve had several people in the last couple years leave for other departments or jobs, as well as losing people for other reasons. So, this should help us get more people out on the road again in the future.”
Gallagher said how quickly the patrol officers get on the road depends upon who is hired.
“We’re going to bring in who we feel are the best candidates on the hiring list,” he said. “Some of the candidates we have already have the necessary OPOTA (Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy) police certification, and some of them haven’t been to the academy and through the necessary training yet. If the people we think are best need to go to academy and get their certification, then that’s what they’ll do. If that’s the case, then we’re probably looking at getting those officers on the road in the city sometime next January.”
He said Morgan’s promotion was well-deserved.
“Eric is a veteran officer who’s done a lot of good work here,” Gallagher said. “He’s well-respected in the department and in the community.”
Gallagher said even with the promotion, Morgan will remain on the shift he’s worked on for several years.
“He’s staying with Lt. (Burt) Flynn’s shift,” Gallagher said. “Eric knows the personnel, they know him and that group works well together.”
Gallagher said Ganelli came with strong references, having worked as an RTA police officer as well as in security at St. John Medical Center.
“His supervisors thought he was great, he comes with very strong credentials and he has his certification already,” Gallagher said.
Even with the planned addition of two other officers, Gallagher said the department probably isn’t done with bringing in new officers for the next few years.
“Starting in late 1989 and going through the mid-’90s we had a few new officers come in almost every year,” Gallagher said. “Now with the state DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program) retirement plan, we’re starting to get a lot of those officers leaving. So, we’re likely to see the need to bring in new officers relatively regularly every year.”
Right now, a new officer will cost in the low $50,000 range annually, officials said.
Paul Barker, chairman of City Council’s Safety Committee, said it makes sense for the city to be ready to bring in new officers as needed.
“It’s been tight the last few years, but it’s good to be bringing in officers to fill some holes we’ve gotten,” he said. “I’m sure the administration will continue to work at getting the staffing at a level it feels is appropriate.”