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Potsdam hires police officer

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POTSDAM — The village Board of Trustees filled a vacancy in the Police Department, an issue previously debated, by hiring a patrolman Monday night.

The board voted 4-0, with Trustee Eleanor F. Hopke absent, to hire Michael J. Price at a salary of $42,045. Mr. Price is originally not from the area and served 14 years in the 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,” Mr. Bates said. Hiring Mr. Price will “get another officer on the streets and ease overtime,” he said.

The board approved the hire with no additional discussion. Board members earlier this year debated 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 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 to 13 members — nine patrolmen, two sergeants, one lieutenant and one chief.

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

The demotion was in response to controversy surrounding Mr. Ames’s failure to report a hit-and-run property damage accident on Halloween, 2010.

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