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Interim Canton police chief wants another officer

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CANTON — Faced with expensive overtime costs and an aging police force, Canton village trustees were asked Monday to consider hiring another officer.

Interim Police Chief Victor N. Rycroft said three members of the police department may retire within 18 months, and he’s afraid the seven-member force could be left shortstaffed.

“One is definitely retiring and the other two are possibilities,” he told trustees.

Also, the department uses a minimum of 32 hours overtime every month just to cover all of the regular shifts. On top of that, overtime hours are racked up when officers have to cover for vacations, sick days and holidays.

“I’ve spoken personally with one or more board members about this,” Mr. Rycroft said. “I know a large concern of the board has been overtime expenditures.”

He said he also is concerned about officers getting burned out from working too many hours.

“Another body would really help out,” Mr. Rycroft said.

Mr. Rycroft said he didn’t have last year’s total overtime expenses, but said the cost has been in the $80,000 range in prior years. Officers earn an average of $40 an hour for working overtime.

Hiring a new officer would cost $37,337 in salary and $23,142 in benefits for a total annual cost of $60,479.

With the influx of students returning to SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence University, an extra officer was assigned to work the past two weekends. This coming weekend the chief is assigning extra officers because both colleges are hosting family weekends.

The extra manpower has been effective at curbing problems with littering, noise and open containers, he said.

It’s been four years since the village hired its last officer, Patrolman James Stone. The department has four patrol officers and three sergeants available to cover three daily shifts.

“There were 10 or 11 officers at one time,” Mr. Rycroft said.

A major part of the village budget is allocated to police department expenses, primarily salaries and benefits.

Village Trustee Sylvia Kingston questioned whether one of the retiring officers would be interested in working part-time for the department. That way the village wouldn’t have to provide health benefits for an extra person.

Mr. Rycroft responded that when law enforcers retire they’re usually ready to do something different.

A part-time officer is a possibility but not ideal, he said.

“I’m not closed to the idea, but I would prefer someone who would be a long-term investment for the village,” Mr. Rycroft said.

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