Nearly 30 Public Safety Workers Out On Leave Since July
The Police and Fire Departments have seen nearly 30 people out on leave since July.
Injuries, illness and administrative matters are to blame for over 30 police and fire personnel being out on leave since the beginning of the fiscal year, according to officials.
“We are down about 10 people,” said Fire Chief James Fortin. “We still have a considerable amount of injuries that have been long-term."
The Police Department, with a force of 65 officers, has been in a similar position with 17 injured or on leave. Not all officers have been out on extended leave and some officers were out on sick leave, according to Police Chief Mark Leonard.
“There’s been a couple of unusual situations," he said, referencing one officer on administrative leave following a lethal shooting of a man who allegedly had a knife.
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The additional overtime prompted a request to move funds around in both departments to the tune of $215,000. In both cases, this is an internal transfer of funds within the department's budget, which members of the Finance Committee that voted to recommend the transfers appreciated.
Compounding the situation this year was that both departments having vacancies when the fiscal year began. The police department has six new officers transitioning in within the next number of months, said Chief Leonard. The Fire Department will be filling five positions beginning in the last week of July. This will put the department at a full staffing level for the first time since 2004, said Chief Fortin.
“It is unpredictable what might be coming down the pike,” he said explaining that in 2011 there were only 10 injuries the entire fiscal year. “It is a labor intensive job and sometimes we have injuries we can’t control."
This additional staffing and steps to fill vacant positions more quickly will help keep overtime in check moving forward, said the chiefs.
“With this transfer we should be fine unless something significant and unanticipated happens," said Chief Leonard.