By Marlana Ward
The current shortage of officers with the Mountain City Police Department was a main topic of discussion as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen met on Tuesday, September 4. Police Chief Denver Church was on hand to request the hiring of additional officers to fill the vacant positions and ensure proper police presence in town. Chief Church first asked the board to approve the hiring of Officer Carl Hatley. Hatley’s recruitment had taken place before the board meeting due to his availability to start immediately and the department’s need for trained officers.
“Denver and I talked, and I approved it, retroactively to this meeting, the hiring of Carl Hatley, and when we did he went to work that week,” City Mayor Kevin Parsons told the board. “He had actually interviewed before and then this position opened.”
Alderman Bob Morrison made the motion to approve the hiring of Hatley and all board members in attendance agreed. Additionally, Chief Church requested the board approve the hiring of two more officers to fill the vacancies in the department.
“Also, we are going to be reviewing applications this Friday,” he explained. “If I could, rather than getting the names to bring before the board next month since most people want to give a two week notice, if we come up with somebody have the Mayor approve the hiring before the board or set up a panel from the board to approve it or I can call you individually to approve it.”
Alderman Bob Morrison made the motion to grant authority to the Mayor and Chief Church to make the hiring decisions before the next board meeting in October, and it was approved unanimously.
“I will make the motion that we do trust the both of you and if there is an applicant making application and is qualified to hire him on the spot or whatever is necessary,” Alderman Morrison said.
The MCPD typically has eight certified police officers on staff with at least two officers on
duty at all times. The current shortage of officers has occurred due to the departure of some officers to seek employment with other law enforcement agencies. The department received approximately 15 applications from prospective new officers. The department hopes to find applicants with experience and certification to speed the availability of officers to patrol.
“From the time of hire, it typically takes an uncertified officer approximately seven months to be prepared for their patrol duties,” said Police Sergeant Matt Mullins. “Officers must attend a 12 week Basic Police Academy (if not certified), and must complete a field training program that could take up to 4 months.”
With the hiring of new officers, the MCPD hopes to bring a high standard of service to the community as Mullins expressed: “The Police Department is striving to hire individuals with the best qualities possible to deliver the best service possible to the citizens of Mountain City. It is the Police Department’s desire that the new officers be highly trained and effective for the citizens, and be a role model to those who need it.”