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Some towns able to keep their cops

February 24, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

Some city police forces are struggling with manpower shortages while others have managed to buffer themselves from the problem, officials say.

Martinsburg (W.Va.) Police recently received a pay increase, moving the salary for a starting officer to about $30,700, said Martinsburg Police Chief Ted Anderson.

Anderson said he believes the pay raise helped keep the department's staffing at an effective level.

The local police department has 44 officer positions and currently has five vacancies, said Anderson, who hopes to have those positions filled soon.

The Martinsburg Police Department has two detectives to investigate crimes, and because of its large force, it has the capability to move officers around to meet special needs, Anderson said. He said he was recently able to pull four officers from the department's uniform division to assist detectives investigating a recent robbery spree.

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"I'm probably in better shape than I have been in a while," Anderson said.

At the Ranson (W.Va.) Police Department, the seven-member department often does not have the time to investigate crimes like it needs to because of its size, said Capt. Mickey Ballenger.

Unlike the Charles Town (W.Va.) Police Department, Ranson does not have any detectives whose sole job is to investigate crimes, Ballenger said.

Ballenger said the problem is complicated further because it is tough to get qualified candidates and ones who can pass a background check.

Anderson said the profession is not as appealing as it once was.

The schedules police officers have to work, among other issues, are causing people to think about other careers, Anderson said.

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