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Police chief wants to pay recruit to get training

August 30, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Wanted: Police officer, no experience required.

The latest search for police officers in Washington Township, Pa., has been a failure, the department chief reported Wednesday.

In response, Chief Barry Keller has proposed hiring someone, putting that person on the payroll and sending him or her to the state training academy for more than four months.

"We're not getting anybody who is applying and making it through our process," Keller said.

In May, the township supervisors agreed to advertise for candidates to form an eligibility list. The move was an early step to create a new position that would bring the force to 15 full-time officers.

The starting salary for a patrol officer in 2007 is $40,290.

Two candidates for the eligibility list were told recently they failed to meet requirements. Now, the chief has asked the township supervisors to send someone to the police academy starting Jan. 15, 2008.

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"Since we're not getting any certified officers applying, this might be another route," Keller said.

The last time the township sent someone to the academy and paid his wages during the training was in 2000, he said.

The supervisors were scheduled to make a decision whether to proceed with the idea at their meeting next Wednesday.

"Maybe it'll generate some candidates locally who want to go through the academy," said Supervisor C. Stewart McCleaf, who is a retired Smithsburg police chief.

It also could prompt career changes if applicants are paid during their time at the academy, Keller said.

"(Otherwise), to go to the academy, it costs them about $3,000 and they have to leave a full-time job," he said.

Keller said he occasionally is contacted by Maryland police officers who lack Pennsylvania's Act 120 certification. They might be able to transfer some of their training into the academy schedule, he said.

With the township's standard probation period, it would be at least Aug. 30, 2008, before the new officer would be fully active in the department, according to Keller.

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