By Jeff Gallatin
City safety officials are ready to infuse some needed new blood into the police department.
An entry-level patrolman’s examination has been set for Jan. 19 at St. Clarence Catholic Church. Safety service Director Scott Thomas said the city is currently planning to fill three positions from the list.
“We’re bringing in two officers to fill openings from an officer leaving to take another job and an officer leaving for health reasons,” Thomas said. “We also will be filling another position in the budget which became open after the city school district agreed to take over paying the salary for school resource officer Jim Carbone. When that happened, the mayor indicated that we would bring in another officer.”
This will be the first test given by the city in several years. The hiring of three officers will be the first multiple hirings since August 2007. Several of those officers were among five laid off by the city at the beginning of 2009, as part of several budgetary moves by the city to combat the effects of the Great Recession. In addition to the police, the city also laid off five workers each in the fire and service departments. The city also sought and received major contract concessions of 10 percent or more from city employee unions.
Thomas said the city is still being cautious financially, but realizes the need to bring in some new police officers.
“We want to make sure they have sufficient resources and people to do their jobs,” he said.
Police Chief Jamie Gallagher said the three officers will go onto shifts as soon as they’re deemed ready.
“It’s always good to bring in some new blood and officers periodically,” he said. “It’s good for the department and the city.”
Gallagher said the city would be willing to bring in experienced officers from other communities if they take the North Olmsted test.
“That would be a plus if they had already gotten through the police academies, are certified and have other relevant experience,” Gallagher said. “But we’re not going to short-cut our process, either. We want to make sure we bring in good, qualified candidates for the positions. So if someone scores well on the test and passes the background checks, but doesn’t have the training yet, then we’ll be sending them to the academy.”
After candidates graduate from the police academy, they undergo department training. There is an overall training officer, with the new officers also being assigned to different officers to learn about the city and the department.
“Having them work with different officers and shifts exposes them to different ways of doing the job,” Gallagher said. “We want them to have different experiences to learn from and utilize.”
Gallagher said he doesn’t anticipate any of the remaining previously laid-off officers coming back to North Olmsted. Patrolman Matt Beck was recalled to fill an opening two years ago, but the other four are all officers for other departments now.
As entry-level police, the new patrol officers will be paid $50,148 annually.