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Police force down with 2 resignations

December 08, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The Greencastle police force is down to only a handful of part-time officers following the resignation of full-time duty officer Bob Petrunak.

Petrunak officially resigned from the force Monday when Greencastle Borough Council voted to approve the letter of resignation he submitted before Thanksgiving.

Petrunak served on the force since 1999, borough manager Ken Myers said. He left to take a job as a firefighter with the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Myers said part-time officer Orien Hippensteel also resigned this month, thinning the force to only eight or nine part-time officers and the chief.

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Despite the resignations of Petrunak and Hippensteel, the council is entertaining the idea of hiring full-time officers next year. According to the recently approved budget for 2007, the council increased the police budget by 4 percent, generating enough money to hire four full-time officers.

Myers said the council has begun the process of filling the vacancies. In its monthly meeting, the council unanimously approved the public safety committee to accept help from a labor lawyer and prepare to advertise for a full-time officer. Myers said the council also approved the committee to request the Civil Service Commission prepare a list of eligible officers and submit it to the council for consideration.

While the money to hire full-time officers has been budgeted, Mayor Robert Eberly said that does not mean it will be spent.

The council has been treading water over hiring a full-time officer because of division among members. Councilman Harold Duffey opposed the 4 percent increase in police funding at the monthly meeting, saying, "We are spending too much on police."

Councilman Paul Schemel said the current situation has both an up and a downside. The upside, he said, is that having mostly part-time officers is very cost effective.

"The downside is that we have become a training ground and our officers leave to find full-time positions elsewhere," he said.

Myers said if the council chooses to hire full-time officers, the process between now and actually welcoming a new member of the force is long.

"This could take at least 60 days and possibly longer," he said. He explained that the Civil Service Commission must draft an eligibility list first so the council can know who is eligible for the job.

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