Stonington “The Board of Police Commissioners has approved a pay rise for its reserve officers who have not received a pay rise for many years.
The pay rise will take hourly wages from about $28 to $39.60 an hour.
Captain Todd Olson told the commission that reserve police officers save the city a lot of money on the cost of school security, special events and motor vehicle enforcement, among other duties.
“Their pay rates have never really gone up in many, many years and we traditionally get very experienced officers,” he said, adding, “We want to make sure that we encourage those officers to apply and they come to work and one.” do a dangerous job and they are paid halfway decently for it.”
In his report to the board, Chief Jay DelGrosso discussed staffing for city events, noting that Stonington hosts more events each year than comparable cities in the area and reporting on the events requires officers to work mandatory overtime hours and shifts .
“When we have these big events, we don’t have the staff to provide security, although they pay for it unless we order our officers,” he said.
Event organizers pay the cost of necessary staffing, but ordering officials to come or requiring them to stay longer and come earlier can result in overtime, lack of available vacation time and lost days off.
The problem for officials, Olson said, is that “due to the amount of special events we have in the city, it gets stressful — especially in the summer when a lot of them pile up.” Officers, like everyone else, like to take time off and it’s a good thing to relax and sometimes they can’t because they’re ordered to work on special events and things like that.
He stressed that the events do not affect the functioning of the police department or the safety of the community.
“We can handle anything that comes our way, and if it’s something beyond our staffing levels, like any city, we have mutual aid agreements,” he said
Olson said the reserve officer pay increase would help recruit and retain new reserve officers, which in turn can help fill events.
“Whatever reserve forces we have at this point, we can supplement them and plug them in at some points instead of having to order officers,” he said.
He added that reserve officers work holidays and weekends, and at events such as the annual turkey amusement ride and Thanksgiving Day football games, allow officers to be at home with their families or attend events rather than having to work.
Stonington currently only has one reserve officer, and Olson said they are looking to increase that number. The department is also beginning a nationwide hiring campaign later this year to fill two vacancies and prepare for vacancies left over from upcoming retirements. The department currently has three sergeants and one captain who may retire and two lieutenants who will be eligible in 2 1/2 years.