Garrett Borough Council members are looking to hire two young police officers, fresh from the academy, to fill the town’s vacant police force.
Council members spoke Monday with Barry Barron, of Somerset, and Kyle Pattison, of Salisbury, about becoming borough police officers. The council has been looking for a new officer since March. Council President Jerry Dupont said the borough has to wait until next month to confirm the candidates because they are scheduled to graduate from the academy today and still require more evaluations before working for the borough.
“(Barron) is the only resume we got,” he said. The borough has been in need of an officer since Officer Matt Wright resigned March 9, citing conflict with his other job as a Meyersdale Borough police officer. Officer David Exton was fired in March because he failed to show up to the borough for work.
Barron said most departments want up to two years of experience for new officers. He added that he feels more comfortable working for a smaller department. “It was nice they gave us the time to come down and they actually considered us, even being cadets,” he said.
The borough allows officers to work up to 20 hours a week, with a starting wage of $11.50 per hour. The time is supposed to be split between members of the force. The council budgeted $3,000 for the police department for 2018.
Residents have been asking for more officers since 2017 to combat burglary and drug problems in the borough. On Tuesday, Joshua Aaron Hay, of Meyersdale, was arraigned on charges that he operated a meth lab at a borough residence along Pine Street. He is awaiting a preliminary hearing.
“The good thing about these guys is they are so close,” Mayor Dwight Diehl said of the police officer candidates.
Officials have reported that larger boroughs such as Berlin and Meyersdale hire full-time officers with larger salaries. “We know if you are looking for part-time work, Garrett is a great place to work,” Diehl said to Barron and Pattison during the meeting. “But if you are looking for full-time work down the road, don’t forget about us.” Officials said the only way to raise police wages or increase hours would be to raise taxes. Officials tried to raise taxes by 2 mills as part of the 2018 budget but voted against it after receiving complaints from residents. The borough has not raised taxes since 1990. Borough officials will not be advertising for more police officers but will be accepting applications until next month.
“I think they will be pretty good for us,” Diehl said.