The Lower Frederick Police Department will be adding a new member to its police force after being shorthanded for nearly a year, according to Police Chief Paul Maxey.
The Board of Supervisors authorized Chief Maxey to hire one part-time officer to relieve some of the pressure on the department’s two full-time officers, who have been operating without the usual third officer since August of 2010.
An officer was terminated last year after an internal affairs investigation determined there were “some serious problems and serious behavioral issues” exhibited by the officer, said Maxey.
The township has been tied up in litigation over the termination of the full-time officer in 2010, and the department has operated with only two officers since then because of economic difficulties and the possibility of being forced to reinstate the terminated officer, said Maxey.
Hiring a part-time officer instead of a full-time one will eliminate some expenses for the township, including the cost of health care, and also eliminate the need to lock into a contract with the new township employee. That would be problematic because the litigation between the terminated officer and the township is still pending, and if the judge decides the township committed a wrongful termination, he could reinstate his contract.
Currently, Pennsylvania State Police officers cover Lower Frederick Township over 50 percent of the time in a typical week, and Maxey said weekends can be an issue for the department because of the absence of a third officer. It is not uncommon for the state police to cover for townships or boroughs when there is not a local officer on duty, but they do spend more time in larger boroughs.
“[The new officer] is going to give us the opportunity to really increase our coverage, and we are a small police department, so the notion that we can cover 24 hours a day, it’s just physically impossible,” said Maxey.
There have been numerous occasions when state police were needed to respond to an incident because of the lack of coverage, said Maxey, but it has forced them to improve communication between the departments.
“I think that we work more fluently with each other then we have ever in the history of this department," said Maxey.
The decision to hire a part-time officer comes just in time for students to be let out for summer, and Maxey said he would love to get a new officer on the streets in 30 days, but realistically, it will take about three months.
The new officer will go through a rigorous interview process and training program, including weapons and procedure training, to be prepared to serve.
“There’s no way to expedite that process,” said Maxey.