Crothersville Police Department soon will have four full-time officers for the first time.
The department typically has had three full-time police officers, but there has been a vacancy since July.
During a recent special meeting of the council, the five members unanimously approved increasing the number of officers to four. They then voted to hire Joshua Medsker, 29, of Greenwood to fill one of the positions.
Medsker told the council during the interview process that he was wanting to move away from working as a police officer for Franklin Township schools in Indianapolis and find a home and a job in a small community.
Police Chief Richard Hanlin is in the process of following up with Medsker to see if he will accept the job. If not, the council will vote to hire two of the other four candidates to fill the open positions during its next meeting Feb. 2.
Hanlin said he was happy with the council’s decision to increase the number of officers.
“It’s a big asset for the community, and I think it’s a big step forward for the new council to show the community that they do trust the police department, they do want police here and we do care for the community,” said Hanlin, who has been with the department since 2009 and served as chief since 2012.
“I know decisions are tough, and they have to look out for everything budget-wise and want to make sure it works,” he said. “I’m just glad this is happening. We’re a small town, and it’s real hard for small towns to even provide this many people. To me, this is huge.”
The town currently has two full-time officers — one being Hanlin — and three reserve officers patrolling the streets. Two of those reserve officers applied for the full-time positions.
Once the new officers are in place, Hanlin said he will arrange schedules to provide the best coverage possible. That will include reserves covering when full-time officers use vacation or sick time.
“The reserves are going to have to step up and put some hours in when needed on the schedule, more planned hours than just coming in whenever you want,” he said. “It’s going to have to be a set shift. If they can’t do it, we’re going to have to find some that will.”
He said his current reserve officers have been working a variety of hours. In December, they ranged from 50 to 275 hours.
Reserves are required to go through 40 hours of prebasic training, including classroom work, firearms and physical tactics. They then ride along with a field training officer for a while before being allowed to be on their own. At that point, they are required to work at least 16 hours per month.
After the council approved increasing the police force to four, it discussed which two of the five candidates to hire.
Council President Lenvel “Butch” Robinson said he preferred hiring Medsker since he already has been through the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield, and council member Bob Lyttle said Medsker’s six years as a police officer stood out.
The other four candidates have not been through the police academy, and the town would have to pay for all of the expenses associated with attending the academy.
The council approved to hire Medsker and pay him $14 per hour.
The five council members then voiced their opinions on who they would choose from the other four candidates. Since there was some indecision, the council decided to table it until the next meeting.
The town has $125,000 in its budget to pay police officers. Based on what the town pays Hanlin and Officer Brent Turner, and then adding projected salaries for the two new officers, Robinson said his calculations came in $1,880 over budget — not including overtime.
Robinson asked Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey if she thought it would be possible to finance four officers.
“At the end of every calendar year, I will transfer around within funds to balance any appropriations that are in the red, and there are some appropriations that have funds left,” Richey said. “We don’t always use everything in our general fund. We don’t use it down to the penny, for sure.”
Richey said she could increase the line item for police officers’ pay in the 2017 budget.
What: Regular monthly meeting of the Crothersville Town Council
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 2
Where: Crothersville Town Hall, 111 E. Howard St.
On the agenda: Hiring of one or two police officers