By Elizabeth F. McNamara
If all goes according to plan, the EG Police Department will be sending four recruits to the state police academy in January, three to fill funded vacant positions and one extra, according to Town Manager Andrew Nota.
“We have another full-time patrolman position that exists that is unfunded and you also have the [animal control officer] position that exists but is unfunded,” Nota said, explaining his decision to OK four recruits going to the academy when only three are funded.
“You have other members who are capable of retiring at any time. You have other members that may be interested in moving to a different department,” he added.
The fact is, sending recruits to the academy is only one step in a long process.
“If everything’s perfect and they graduate, they wouldn’t be on their own in the community until probably next September, October,” Nota said, which is already three months into a new budget year.
The new officers could significantly lower the average age of the department. The average age now is 46 years old. Nota said they’d like to see the average age drop to 40 years old or younger.
Nota said his plan was to meet with all four candidates individually – “just to see, to make sure that I’m comfortable with the group that’s recommended.”
He said that’s not a reflection on the recent spate of accusations of bad behavior on the part of three different officers. Rather, said Nota, it’s his practice to meet with all potential new town hires, just as he did in Jamestown.
In a town the size of East Greenwich, which is larger than Jamestown but still on the small side, “I think it’s absolutely critical,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than the hiring of people to the municipal team…. With me it’s about chemistry because not everyone will fit into this organization well long term…. That’s the reason why I take the extra step of meeting with each candidate.”
Nota said it’s not about second guessing department heads.
Rather, he said, “I think it’s very important to meet them and just give some additional assurance that it’s the direction we want to go in. And, ultimately, I’m held responsible so I think it’s important that I’m an active participant in the process.”
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