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Local News

March 1, 2014

OPD vacancies may go unfilled

Police chief, union split on 12-hour shift schedule

The Oneonta Police Department has four vacancies, but only up to two will be filled under a proposal to be considered by the Common Council on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the city’s police chief and union disagree on whether to continue coverage with patrol officers working 12-hour shifts, and the union president said the scheduling issue has become part of contract negotiations.

Police officers have been working the longer shifts, instead of daily eight-hour shifts, since a trial period began in September.

A resolution to hire two police officers is on the agenda of the Oneonta Common Council for its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Fiscal constraints, including less-than-expected sales tax revenues in 2013, and recommendations by the police chief were primary factors leading to the Human Resources Committee’s proposal to hire two instead of four officers, Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller said Friday.

However, the mayor said, the number of officers to be hired is open for discussion by council members, who expressed various views on staffing and fiscal reserve levels during budget talks late last year.

In developing the 2014 budget, council members debated whether to keep four unfilled public safety positions — two each in the police and fire departments. All four positions were maintained, however, City Manager Michael Long warned that city staff might have to be cut in years ahead.

Council members Bob Brzozowski of the Seventh Ward and Chip Holmes of the Eighth Ward voted against the 2014 budget proposal because they said it didn’t go far enough to address personnel costs and preserve the city’s reserves.

The police department is authorized for 27 positions: detectives, sergeants, a lieutenant, the chief and patrol officers. The department is subject to turnover as officers find opportunities with state police and other law enforcement agencies and retirements take effect.

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