The City of Cortland Police Department currently has close to 50 police officers on its force, and could have more between early summer and the end of the year.
City police chief Paul Sandy told The Cortland Voice Thursday afternoon has five potential officers in either the police academy or in training. Once city police receive the list of results from a recent civil service test, Sandy said, another group of potential officers could start the police academy by this summer and be trained by December.
Sandy noted that if all goes well, the city police department could be about full strength in its force by January of next year.
“We could get three officers soon, then two more in the summer,” he added, who noted city police, as of right now, have four openings. “We’re looking to fill the holes on (certain) shifts.”
Despite a nationwide shortage of police officers, Cortland police has its sights set on breaking the mold. Sandy mentioned that in the past few years, city police have lost officers to police departments within Onondaga County and its surrounding areas, due to those departments being “bigger agencies and paying more money.”
This has led to city police restructuring contract negotiations by offering a “good salary and benefits,” Sandy said.
“Things are looking really good,” he said. “If contract negotiations go well, it should stop people from leaving and potentially bring in some laterals. (Contract negotiations) brings morale up. Other people outside of the city could start to realize ‘hey, that’s a good contract.’”
City police may have 47 police officers, all of them full-time except for one part-timer, but the department still runs itself thin.
“We’re a busy agency for the size we are,” Sandy said. “It was important to put (the police officer at the desk) back on the road to where he could help with calls. Adding three more officers to the force (soon) will give us two more officers per shift.”
Sandy noted the list from the civil service, which is the second time city police has received one this year, is a “breath of fresh air for us.”
“It’s never happened to us,” he added, who noted counties like Onondaga annually receive a second list. “Our list is usually exhausted. This leads to delays in getting officers through the academy and training.”
Sandy said that he’s been able to have officers participate in the Stop DWI Program, and is hopeful to put officers on bike patrol soon.
“The more people we can have, the more proactive we can be,” he added.
Aside from city police looking to increase its force, the department is in the process of looking for a new K-9 dog. Sandy noted the department’s current K-9 dog, Lummel, is aging.
“It’s come to the point where he needs to retire,” he said.
City police are attempting to raise funds to purchase a new K-9 dog, starting with a barbecue fundraiser in May.
Once city police bring on a second dog, it will be another year or so until Lummel officially retires.
“Maybe in the future, we’ll have funding for a second (new dog).” Sandy said.