Brownstown to hire 7th officer

Council also grants approval to 36-hour weekly schedule for department

BROWNSTOWN

To help alleviate issues with overtime and vacation hours, Brownstown Police Chief Tom Hanner proposed a couple of changes.

One is implementing a 72-hour biweekly work schedule, giving 17 more days scheduled off annually.

The other is hiring a seventh police officer to help with coverage.

The Brownstown Town Council granted both wishes with a 4-0 vote. Councilman Gregg Goshorn abstained.

The changes will become effective Jan. 1.

Despite changing to a 36-hour workweek, officers will keep their same annual base salary as projected for this year, Hanner said.

“We’re starting to see seniority within the department where we’re getting guys maxed out on vacation days,” he said. “I’m not proposing taking vacation days away without compensating schedule-wise. We have to do something. We’re starting to get so many vacation days banked.”

In some instances, an officer has had to cut their vacation short to help cover for other officers. Then they have to bank those vacation hours.

Hanner also said he has a stack of vacation requests but has had to deny some of them.

“It’s just becoming very difficult to schedule vacations because we’ve got so many guys getting to the top of seniority,” he said. “It’s not going to get any better because the other officers that are down here (with less vacation hours), they are catching up. I’m going to get to a point here soon where I’m going to have several officers with 20, 25 days earned vacation every year.”

The vacation earned will change to 3.33 hours for each month worked for a first-year officer, while it’s 86 hours for two to six years, 120 hours for seven to 14 years and 150 hours for 15 or more years.

The pay matrix also was changed to five-year increments.

Hiring a seventh officer would drastically cut down on overtime and put the department’s budget in a better situation, Councilman Matt Smith said.

Hanner said he expects the hiring process to take several months and hopes to have the position filled by January. Applications are being accepted.

The extra person also would allow for two officers at all times, and Hanner would focus more on an administrative role.

“The schedule we’re working right now, we don’t have as much overlap during the nights,” he said. “This (change) would allow four days one week where you’re doubled up on days and nights both, which would be great.”

Smith also proposed switching Hanner from hourly to salary. With the amount of overtime officers are working, they are nearly making the same yearly pay as Hanner.

The change would be beneficial from a morale standpoint and have some incentives attached to the chief’s role, Smith said.

“That secure aspect of having a salary, that goes a long way,” Smith said.

This would put Hanner in the $50,000 salary range and give him holidays off.

Hanner said in researching similar-sized departments, their chiefs are salaried.

“I would like to see this position be an administrative position,” Hanner said. “I would like to see that there is a benefit package for the chief, that there’s an incentive to do this job. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the things that have been done. I don’t want to sound like that at all. I’m thankful for everything that has come our way in the last five and a half years that I’ve done this position.”

A couple of council members said they wanted more time to look at all of the information, so the issue was tabled.

At a glance

The Brownstown Police Department is accepting applications for the position of full-time police officer.

Applicants must be 21 and not older than 36 at the time of appointment, per PERF 1977; be a high school or GED graduate; possess a valid Indiana driver’s license at the time of appointment; and be able to pass written, physical and background tests.

Applicants must not have a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence.

After the first year of probation, officers will earn $38,480 per year. There will be uniform allowance, a take-home vehicle and off-duty usage of take-home vehicle within Jackson County.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, officers will be scheduled for a 72-hour biweekly schedule.

The hire date will be Jan. 1, 2018, and the department is creating a hiring pool.

Applications may be picked up at Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St. Applications must be returned no later than 4 p.m. May 31. Any that are late, incomplete or have illegible email addresses will not be considered.

All notifications related to this hiring process will be conducted via email, so applicants must maintain an active email account.

Information: Cpl. Joe Kelly at jkelly@brownstownpd.org

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.