The loss of an officer due to early retirement, coupled with the Washington Township Police Department’s chief retiring in June 2013 has led the Washington Township Committee to authorize the hiring of two new patrolmen.
In September, the committee gave police Chief Michael Bailey the go-ahead to hire one new officer, replacing officer Peter Cecere who was injured in the line of duty in March and forced into early retirement.
At that time, Bailey requested the approval to hire two officers, but was granted only one.
In the time since, the process of interviewing potential officers has begun, but it would be another few months before a patrolman is ready to operate alone on Washington Township roadways, Bailey said.
The next course of training at the Morris County Police Academy begins Jan. 14, 2013, Bailey said. Once that is complete, the hired officer would then have to travel the roads with an experienced officer for three months before going solo.
The hires won’t be in addition to the force, which now has 27 active duty members, rather to serve as replacements for Cecere and Bailey.
Bailey said he’s spent vacation time this year working over time for road projects because the force didn’t have the manpower to farm out to contractors.
“Overtime has been more than expected (because of lack of manpower),” Bailey said.
Washington Township Mayor Ken Short agreed with Bailey, saying the pace of overtime use could at some point outpace the cost of two new officers.
Waiting another budget cycle to make the hire could be detrimental, according to one committeeman.
“Waiting another year would set us back,” Committeeman David Kennedy said. “We’re trying to cover 45 square miles plus Califon. We need the new officers.”
The committee decided to commit to two new hires for next year’s budget and authorized the move.