Police recruits a step closer to October start of academy; Feb. graduation expected for 20.
WORCESTER - Background investigations on all of the recruits for the Police Department's upcoming class have been completed, keeping the academy start date of Oct. 1 in place.
The department has already placed two of the 25 recruits on the streets. Those two were originally from the 2009 recruit class, which was laid off on graduation day. Three more members of the 2009 recruit class will be rehired by the end of August, Police Chief Gary J. Gemme said.
"It is a benefit to the department to get trained officers we can immediately put out on the streets," the chief said of the already trained rehires.
Twenty recruits will attend the new academy. It will run 22 to 24 weeks, wrapping up by February, the chief said. Once those recruits graduate, they too will hit the streets of the city.
There are 324 officers in the department, and the recruit class would bump the number of officers to 347.
Including supervising officers, the department has 410 sworn personnel. That is still a much lower number than the complement of 480 the chief supervised when he took office in late 2004.
The chief believes the department has an adequate number of supervising officers to control the department.
The new officers will fill vacancies in the Traffic Division, Community Impact Division and Patrol Division, the chief said.
"It gets more police officers on the streets and in the community. It allows us to fill some of the existing needs we have now," Chief Gemme said. "Our greatest need is to have more officers out on the streets and in the neighborhoods."
The chief believes that any additional resources that can be allocated for the department should be used to hire officers at the entry level so the complement of officers can move back to the 480 number.
Originally the recruit class was scheduled to begin July 1, but that was delayed because of the need for background checks and physical examinations.
The cost to deploy all 25 new officers is $1.1 million for this fiscal year.
The state will now do medical and psychological evaluations of the recruits.
Chief Gemme said the department reviewed 75 candidates and found 27 acceptable. There is an expectation some recruits will be lost after the examinations or leave at the beginning of the academy.
To anticipate the loss of recruits, the department did preliminary background checks on an additional 13 candidates. Chief Gemme said the new hires will add diversity to the department, a goal created to better reflect the community. Out of the five returning officers, three are minorities. At least five of the 20 recruits in the academy will be minorities as well. The chief credited the work of Sgt. John W. Lewis for added diversity to the department.
For the first time in a while, the department will also open up the academy to surrounding communities and departments across the state. Communities sending recruits to train at the Worcester Police Department's academy will pay $3,000 for one recruit. The chief anticipates training 20 recruits from other communities. The gain of $60,000 will be used to offset the cost of the academy to the city.
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|Title Annotation:||LOCAL NEWS|
|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Aug 2, 2012|
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