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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Potsdam hires police officer

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POTSDAM - The village board filled a vacancy in the Potsdam Police Department, an issue which was previously debated, by hiring a patrolman Monday night.

The board voted 4-0, with Eleanor Hopke absent, to hire Michael J. Price at a salary of $42,045. Mr. Price is not originally from the area, and served 14 years in the United States Navy before receiving an honorable discharge, according to Chief Kevin E. Bates. He moved to Potsdam to be closer to his children.

Mr. Price will begin duty later this month. He still has to receive training at the police academy but will be able to serve desk duty and complete other responsibilities in the meantime, Mr. Bates said.

“We can start training him for desk duty as soon as he gets here,” according to the Potsdam police chief.

Hiring Mr. Price will have other long-term benefits too, Mr. Bates said.

“It’s going to get another officer on the streets and ease overtime,” he added.

The board approved the hire with no additional discussion. Board members debated earlier this year whether to fill the position. Not doing so could have saved nearly $85,000, but hiring would ensure better protection and cut down on overtime costs, officials previously said.

The board voted 3-2 in June to fill the position.

“This is just the actual hiring that’s consistent with the board’s decision to fill the vacant position,” Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis said after Monday night’s meeting. “I think we found an excellent candidate.”

Mr. Price’s hire will bring the department’s size to 13 - nine patrolmen, two sergeants, one lieutenant and one chief.

In June, the board voted to recommend the demotion of Sergeant Michael Ames to patrolman, and the department heeded that recommendation, Mr. Bates said.

The demotion was in response to controversy surrounding Mr. Ames’ failure to report a hit-and-run property damage accident on Halloween 2010. He did not report the accident until March of this year, and Mr. Yurgartis, the village board and Administrator David Fenton did not learn of it until several weeks later when they received a complaint from an area resident.

Mr. Bates said the department is not looking right now to fill the vacant sergeant position caused by Mr. Ames’ demotion.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss announced that the village received an anonymous donation of 20 trees. The trees will be planted in Ives Park in the coming weeks, Mr. Hanss said.

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