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4 part-time officers to join MPD; Mayor Curry to seek three full-time positions for 2018

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 10/11/17

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

Middletown Police Department is getting four more part-time patrol officers.

Borough council approved adding the new positions by a 5-0 vote, …

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4 part-time officers to join MPD; Mayor Curry to seek three full-time positions for 2018

Posted

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

Middletown Police Department is getting four more part-time patrol officers.

Borough council approved adding the new positions by a 5-0 vote, following a closed-door executive session held during council’s meeting Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Council by 4-1 vote also approved the conditional hiring of two new part-time officers, pending the candidates passing their background checks.

One of the two candidates is not expected to pass the background check and will not be hired, Police Chief George Mouchette later told the Press & Journal.

The other candidate is Keegan Wenner, whom Mouchette said knows the borough because he works in Middletown as a Dauphin County adult probation and parole officer.

Wenner is also a part-time police officer for the Highspire Police Department, and is a substitute teacher with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from McDaniel College in Maryland.

Wenner is to fill one of six part-time positions that were  already included in the 2017 budget. Council adding four more part-timers brings to 10 the total number of part-time police officers that the Middletown department is authorized, Mayor James H. Curry III told the Press & Journal after Tuesday’s vote.

Mouchette told the Press & Journal he is moving quickly to fill all the part-time positions, to get them voted on by the next council meeting. He scheduled a day full of interviewing candidates on Monday, Oct. 9.

Councilor Diana McGlone supported adding the new positions, but voted against approving the two hires because she said the borough did not advertise to fill the positions, McGlone said in an email to the Press & Journal.

She said that the application and interview process for the two candidates “was not completed” as of council’s vote to hire them Tuesday.

Curry said the borough did not advertise to fill the part-time positions because “we have an immediate need to have boots on the ground.”

“To provide two examples, we have one officer out on worker’s compensation and another who will go out on personal medical issues,” Curry said. “That leaves gaps in my schedule. I don’t have the time to advertise for 30 days and attempt to get part-timers. We have an immediate need to protect the citizens of this town.”

McGlone said Curry should have anticipated the scheduling issues and brought them to council weeks ago, which would have given the borough enough time to advertise. That he did not is “poor planning,” McGlone said.

“I don’t know how you get applications and conduct interviews when the position was not advertised,” McGlone said.

Neither Curry nor McGlone said they know of any legal requirement that the borough publicly advertise to fill part-time police officer positions.

The process of hiring a part-time officer is “far less involved” than that of hiring a full-time officer, Curry said. “If there was a requirement in the law (to advertise for part-time positions), the solicitor would not have allowed” council to approve the two conditional hires.

McGlone said it has been the borough’s “current practice” to advertise for all positions, even part-time seasonal workers.

According to Mouchette, the positions were advertised, but not through traditional means such as through the newspaper.

Instead, the availability of the positions was advertised on a website that is used by candidates who are looking for law enforcement jobs all over Pennsylvania.

“That application is open to everybody,” Mouchette said.

Not counting the four new part-time positions, the current police roster on the borough website lists 17 officers — 14 full-time officers including Mouchette, and three part-time officers.

Curry during council’s Sept. 19 meeting said he will be asking for two new full-time positions as part of the 2018 budget process, as well as hiring for a full-time position budgeted for 2017 that was not filled. Curry had recommended that position be left unfilled, pending the outcome of talks between the borough and Lower Swatara Township toward the borough entering into a contract to pay the township to provide police services in Middletown. Those talks were pronounced dead by both municipalities at the end of May.

Council adding the four new part-time positions “has nothing to do” with wanting to add three more full-time officers in 2018, Curry said.

The part-time officers are being paid $18.70 per hour, 

Borough Finance Director Kevin Zartman told the Press & Journal.

The money council put in the 2017 budget to cover the full-time officer will be used to pay for the four new part-timers for the rest of this year, since the full-time position has not been filled, Zartman said.

“Part-timers get paid as they work. It’s not costing the borough any extra money to keep them on the roster” because they don’t get paid for health insurance, vacation, or any other benefits, Mouchette said.

Hiring new officers on a part-time basis also creates a pool the department can draw from when filling new full-time positions.

Two officers who are now full-time — Tyler Zehring and Adam Tankersley — were both first hired as part-timers, Mouchette noted.


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