With two recent hires, Molalla Police Department now has 16 sworn officers—the biggest force in its history.
"As our city grows and our community grows, we've got to grow with it or we'll just be caught unprepared," said Police Chief Frank Schoenfeld. "So, we want to be in the right spot to respond to calls and handle calls and have adequate coverage out there."
Ashly Amason was sworn in on July 15 and will head to the academy in September, according to Schoenfeld. She was formerly a 9-1-1 dispatcher and is eager to start her police career in Molalla.
Then Jefferey Hillhouse was sworn in on July 29, and he will head to the academy in September or October. If the name sounds familiar, that's because Hillhouse has been serving as the campus security monitor at Molalla High School.
Now, more than ever, it is difficult to find good candidates, Schoenfeld said, so the department lucked out when it came to the recent hires.
"They are very energetic, very eager to pursue their new career—excited," Schoenfeld said. "They seem like two very organized [people] and the type of people that can take on the rigorous training task that's in front of them to the point that they get their certification through the police academy. So I think we've got two candidates ripe for that."
In addition to Amason and Hillhouse, the department hired another new-to-the-field candidate in the last year. That was Brandon Buchanan. He completed the academy in May and Schoenfeld hopes to get him on the streets soon.
Some officers from Gladstone and Yamhill County made lateral moves to Molalla in the last year as well.
With officers working overtime and struggling to get time off, plus the need for 24-hour supervision, Schoenfeld said the staff is thrilled to get some bodies hired to eventually provide relief, but training the new officers involves a time investment. The police academy takes about four months to complete and the entire training process requires about a year.
Still, soon enough Molalla will have 16 officers patrolling the city. In the past, the number of officers has dipped as low as eight, per Schoenfeld. Last year, there were 14. The chief said ideally they'd like to have 18, but as with most things, the budget is limited.
So the department will hire when possible and hopefully continue to grow with the city.
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