New faces on the force
Over the past two months, the St. Helens Police Department has brought four new hires on board, each filling a budgeted position in the department, Police Chief Terry Moss said.
Moss described filling the open positions so quickly as "somewhat of a miracle" during a recent St. Helens City Council meeting.
The recent hiring of three new patrol officers and one new code enforcement officer, however, does not reflect a spike in police department funding. Rather, it reflects successful hiring to fill department vacancies.
While the new faces have brought an air of excitement to the office, Moss said it would be a misnomer to call the department "fully-staffed." The department is working with fewer positions than previous years. In 2008, 20 patrol staff worked for the department, a figure that has been cut to 16.
Last October, the department was down five full-time officers, including two full-time positions left vacant by applicants who did not complete academy training, two officers who were on temporary leave while attending training programs, and the retirement of one long-time police sergeant.
One month prior, the department was at full staff. The sudden departure of employees meant having to make due until the positions could be filled, Moss explained.
By February, the department was nearing employment equilibrium when two new patrol officers were hired and sworn in.
Then, in early March, Moss announced the hiring of a new officer to serve in a code enforcement position after SHPD Officer Jamin Coy left the job after a brief stint. Coy remains with the department as a full-time officer. Shortly afterward, Moss confirmed the hiring of a third full-time officer, finally filling the staffing gap.
"I think we really got lucky. Right now in law enforcement it's a very competitive job market," Moss said. "To have all of these guys lined up and to be able to hire them right away is really neat. We're really fortunate. The stars really lined up for us."
The new officers are Sean Luedke, Timothy Davis, Anthony Boswell and Adam Hartless.