GLOVERSVILLE - A new police officer has been hired and city officials continue the search for another, but they have found applications are scarce.
Weeks ago, members of the Common Council authorized the city Police Department to hire two officers as "lateral transfers," or officers who have already been through school and have worked as police officers before. The authorization came in response to a spate of criminal activity in the city, including riots and drug busts, and a call from area business owners to address city crime.
One of the new officers has begun his supervised field training, Capt. James Lorenzoni said. All new officers transferred from other departments must spend three months under the supervision of a full-time police officer who is certified to train new officers.
An officer hired in April to replace another officer who retired has two more months of supervised training left. The newest officer has 2 1/2 months of supervised training left, Lorenzoni said.
Lorenzoni said a perception that the department lacks job security appears to be preventing more officers from applying for the job. The city cannot entice a new officer with any bonuses or benefits because it is bound by the contractually set compensation for the department, Lorenzoni said.
"Unfortunately there is a perception of a lack of job security," he said. "Young officers with families, homes and mortgages are hesitant to go where the possibility exists that they could be laid off. Job security trumps all other benefits."
Mayor Dayton King agreed. He said a decision made by members of the Common Council last year to not fund four police positions has contributed to the perception that the department has little job security.
"It's hard to find people who will leave a secure job when things are uncertain here," he said.
He said he is glad the new officer, who he said is a Fulton County native, has been hired.
"It's definitely a positive thing," he said.
King said the city recently applied for a grant that would pay for several more officers for several years, but it would require the city keep those officers employed for some time after the grant expires.
Applying for and then accepting that grant, if the city receives it, could help improve the perception that employment in the Police Department is unstable, King said.
"Hopefully we'll get the grant and the council will accept it," he said. "We worked hard on it and we should know by September [if we receive it]. I'm excited about it."
Police Chief Edgar Beaudin said the addition of even one officer will make a significant difference in the department.
"It's working out very well. The day shifts are extremely short so [the new officer] will help out a lot," he said.
According to the monthly police report from Lorenzoni, the department has 30 officers, including Beaudin. The department handled nearly 1,300 crimes, complaints, investigations or calls for service in June.
Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.