Tuesday November 6, 2012

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Local officials say new officers are being sought to help the Bennington Police Department round out its ranks.

Chief Paul Doucette said the department currently has two openings. One person is currently at the police academy, he said. Another potential recruit was interviewed last week and another will be interviewed today, according to Doucette.

The department must fill openings created by a retirement and from one officer departing for a position with the Burlington Police Department. In recent years, some local officers are left to pursue careers with the state police or other, larger departments. In some case, the pay and benefits is better, Doucette said, but interest remains strong from candidates in his department.

"We’ve got people that want to come and work with us," he said.

Doucette said he hopes to hire two additional officers and send them through the Vermont Police Academy.

Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd said the department could use additional officers, but staffing levels are not a concern. "I don’t see it as a major issue for us right now," he said.

The department often has officers out with injuries or illness. "Police work is such that people tend to get injured," Hurd said.

Additionally, hiring police officers takes more time than other town employees because of the stringent background checks, Hurd said.

"There are people lined up that want the job, but they don’t necessarily clear all of the checks that need to be made, for whatever the reason," he said. "But, we’ve got a lot of people that want to be police officers."

The department maintains a minimum of three officers per shift, Hurd said. That means the town occasionally pays overtime to officers that help to cover open shifts. The town is not seeing a significant increase in overtime costs as it looks to hire more officers, he said.