WINDHAM — Selectmen last night approved the hiring of part-time police officers, giving top priority to local officers who have retired or resigned in good standing.
The plan drafted by Town Manager Dave Sullivan calls for using the officers primarily for traffic details but also for large-scale emergencies and to possibly cover during manpower shortages when full-time staff is not available.
The department's union contract states that full-time officers be given the first opportunity to receive overtime by working details. The details will be offered to part-timers only if full-time officers turn them down.
Police Chief Gerald Lewis and selectmen Vice Chairman Bruce Breton said they met Monday afternoon and resolved differences over training standards for the program. They also agreed to revisit the program in the future to evaluate its success.
Former full-time Windham officers who retain certification shall be eligible for appointment. If they cannot fill all vacancies, qualified officers from other local departments, state police or the county sheriff's department who reside in Windham may be considered for appointment.
This is in keeping with the town manager's description of the program, which selectmen approved unanimously, although Breton and Dennis Senibaldi disagreed on the rate to be charged for traffic details.
The program calls for establishing a pool of five officers from which to draw.
The police chief said the evaluation of the program has been ongoing and he does not think he and Breton were at odds or split. Breton concurred.
In a May 5 memorandum to selectmen, the chief states that he opposes the use of retired officers as part-time officers for any purpose. However, he agrees the officers could perform the duties.
Breton sees the program as a cost savings to the town.
Windham police have turned to other towns, including Salem, Pelham and Hudson, for police officers to work road construction details when the department could not fill those shifts.
When an officer from another town covers a detail, that community receives the difference between what the officer earns and what that town charges the contractor, Breton said.
When Windham covers the details, it receives the difference between what the officer is paid and the amount the town bills the contractor, he said.
Windham officers worked 7,852 hours of details between January and December 2007. Out-of-town officers worked 1,459 hours of details between April and December 2007.