The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 16, 2009

Police special officers earn salary increase

Police Chief John Sullivan communicated that he is having trouble filling 300 shifts a year for “special officers” at the current rate allotted of $21 per hour. At the Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting on Tuesday, October 13, Sullivan explained that he prefers to employ his own “full-time academy-trained officers” but these officers are receiving “$25 an hour” for the extra shifts at police stations elsewhere. Paying special officers falls outside the police contract and the chief utilizes such individuals to cover additional shifts at the station requiring coverage. Shifts needing coverage emerge due to officer illness, vacation or unexpected town needs. The work falls outside the jobs done by regularly scheduled part-time officers.

The Carlisle force has had difficulty competing with the higher rate offered by other police departments. The chief expressed concern that shifts will go uncovered in Carlisle and not enough qualified staff will be available. Those officers not academy-trained receive the lower rate of $19.50.

One of the benefits to Carlisle of hiring academy-trained police officers, according to Sullivan, is that they complete required training at their own station. Carlisle currently pays its officers to complete additional required training at the rate of “time and a half” on weekends or after hours as they already have booked working hours in their regular full-time jobs.

Sullivan estimated the raise would add $3,000 to the police budget, but emphasized that failure to pay the higher rate and fill the shifts would have a larger financial impact on the town. The police department would then need to hire additional full-time or less-qualified staff. The BOS unanimously approved the increase to $25 effective immediately.

Further clarification requested

Prior to leaving the microphone, Sullivan added that he wanted to note at the request of Town Accountant Priscilla Dumka that he was paying all Carlisle officers “time and a half” for special training on weekends and after hours. He said this had been going on “for years.” Treasurer Larry Barton, reached after the meeting, confirmed that this was “past practice” and that required training fell outside the regular jobs of the police officers, but that the finance department wanted to ensure the transparency of this decision.

Hult noted that the board should formally acknowledge support of the additional payment to cover training. Stevenson moved that the BOS support “overtime rates paid to special officers working outside of patrol shifts to do training.” The board unanimously approved the decision. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito