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Residents voice concerns about city police staffing

August 24, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Staffing at the Hagerstown Police Department was at issue Tuesday night during a public comment session at City Hall.

City residents Tom Lohman and Noel Brady called on city officials to look into the possibility of increasing pay for city officers, as well as increasing staff for the city's downtown squad.

"We are at a critical manpower shortage," Lohman told the City Council.

Lohman said that while the downtown squad has been doing a good job at keeping public drinking and disorderly conduct down, the number of officers has dwindled from four last year to two this year. There is one sergeant that oversees the squad.

"The downtown squad needs to be put up to full complement as soon as possible," Brady said.

After the meeting, Acting City Police Chief Capt. Charles Summers told a reporter that the downtown squad's staff has decreased, but a new officer will be added in the coming weeks.

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Summers said officer staffing is stressed. The department is authorized to staff 101 sworn officers, but due to illness, maternity leave, military call-ups and losing officers to better-paying forces, he has 96 officers.

"What I have left is being stretched thin," Summers said.

He said he has been authorized to offer immediate jobs to qualified candidates.

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