Petersburg’s police department now has three vacancies to fill with the impending retirement of a long serving member of the force.
Captain John Hamilton is retiring in September after around 25 years with the department and he is taking leave this summer, which started at the end of June. Local police were already looking to fill a vacant officer’s position and a sergeant’s job with the promotion of Jim Kerr, hired as the new police chief in June.
Kerr expects to promote from within to fill the sergeant’s position that he held, but will be announcing that promotion toward the end of July. That will mean two police officer positions are open, along with the captain’s post. The borough has started advertising the captain’s job and an officer’s position. Kerr said sergeant Randy Holmgrain is among the interested people for captain.
In the meantime the department will be a little short-staffed in a time of year that his typically busier for police. In the short term, Kerr said he has proposed a change in schedule for the police officers.
“With those open vacancies, one of the things I proposed was a 12-hour shift and so during that time, we’re gonna allow the officers to have take home patrol cars during that time so that they have a faster response time to the needs of the community,” Kerr explained. “And so we’ll have one person on but then we’ll also have that additional officer available for backup at a moment’s notice with the take-home patrol car.”
The department has been operating with four-day work weeks and ten-hour shifts. Kerr said his proposal saves the borough some money.
“It’s kindof a nice schedule,” Kerr said. “One week is 36 and then the other week is 48 hours. So they’ll have rotating weekends. Their longest stretch of 12-hour days will be three in a row. And then they’ll have days off. It helps with the burn out factor so that the officers aren’t getting burned out. It’s allowing ‘em more days off. A little bit longer one week but shorter the next.”
Kerr expects as the new chief he’ll be also working some patrol shifts while the department is short-staffed. When fully staffed PPD has a total of nine officers. Kerr is putting out the call for anyone looking for work.
“If there’s anyone in this community that was born and raised here, living here now, we’d really like to see some locals apply for the position,” he said. “I think that would help round out the department as a whole. And we have testing July 22nd, 23rd and 24th so there’s still time to get their applications in. They’re on the borough website and we’d love to have local applicants apply for our police officer positions.”
The hourly wage for police officers starts at 24 dollars and 63 cents an hour but can increase to over 28 dollars an hour after a year of work.