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Greencastle, Pa. hopes to hire full-time police officer

February 04, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - After months as the only full-time officer in the Borough of Greencastle, Police Chief Peter Mozurkevich soon might welcome at least one additional full-time police officer to the force.

Mozurkevich said Wednesday that the borough Civil Service Commission will test for new officers on Feb. 7 and compile a list of eligible candidates to be reviewed by the Greencastle Borough Council.

Mozurkevich said the commission has advertised for at least one full-time officer, but said he recommends the council hire more.

"I would like to see council hire at least three full-time officers so we can be back where we were when I was hired in October 2005," he said.

Mayor Robert Eberly said the council attempted to hire a full-time officer in January, but was unsuccessful.

"We had a list from the Civil Service Commission of five people, but when we called, all of them had taken other jobs," he said.

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The commission will present the borough council with a list of the top three candidates after the Feb. 7 exam, giving preference to any veterans, Eberly said.

While the council waits for a list of eligible officers, eight part-time officers are "on the books," but only six are actively working, Mozurkevich said.

Greencastle's police force dropped to eight part-time officers and the chief following the resignation of full-time officer Bob Petrunak and part-time officer Orion Hippensteel in December 2006.

Despite having only part-time officers, Mozurkevich said he has been able to schedule at least one officer for every shift.

"We're doing surprisingly well under the circumstances," he said. "Our coverage has actually increased since 2005."

Borough police might have adapted to changes in the force, but the issue still divides council members, council President Charles Eckstine said.

Eckstine said council has been unable to reach a consensus about how many officers should cover each shift and whether to pursue a full-time force or stick with part-time officers.

"It is an interesting sort of paradox, and money is a big concern," he said. "Full-time officers average 33 hours per week with holidays, vacation and benefits, but we have part-time officers who work 39 hours every week without benefits."

Eckstine said the council budgeted enough money to hire full-time officers in 2007, but that it might have to consider lowering the number of part-time officers to balance the cost.

"We don't want to be a training ground where young officers come for six months and then leave," he said.

Eckstine said the council also is waiting for a report from the state on a potential joint police force with Antrim Township, Pa. He said the council has yet to openly discuss a joint police force and has taken no official stance on the issue.

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