Camden Town Council will revisit the cost of hiring a police officer to help a Camden Police Department stretched to the limit, and it will also take up where it left off with regard to where to permanently store stolen bicycles.
The issue of hiring an additional police officer came up at council's Dec. 4 meeting when Councilman John Green asked Camden Police Chief William Bryson if he could use some help during the busy Christmas shopping season.
Camden Police have eight full-time police officers, as authorized by Camden Town Council, but the injury suffered by a police officer struck by a drunk driver made it impossible to fill all 24 hours for a two-week period, when thefts and robberies were at their highest, Bryson said.
Bryson said an entry level salary for a police officer would cost $40,745. Combined benefits and salary for an entry-level officer would push that figure to between $60,000 to $63,000.
Camden Police utilizes the police academy conducted by Delaware State Police at Delaware Tech, Bryson said. Since council's December meeting, he had learned that the academy was now charging for meals — namely $1,200 for the term of the academy. And it would cost an additional $3,400 to provide uniforms and weapons, Bryson said.
Green had stressed in December that the town would only hire an officer if there was money in the budget to do so and there were no need for a tax increase. He requested that council consider the matter at its Jan. 7 meeting and encouraged public input on the matter.
In neighboring Dover, city officials also had concerns about the financial impact of hiring two new police officers in January 2012 at a salary of $45,094 each per year despite what was a looming $3.4 million deficit for the 2013 fiscal year. But council ended up approving the hires to end concern over the six homicides that occurred in the city in 2011 – up from one in 2010. One of the officers hired came from the Camden PD.
As for bicycle storage, police were required by law to store stolen and recovered bicycles for one year, Camden Town Manager Aaron Chaffinch said. Heretofore, police have stored recovered bicycles at the old Camden PD headquarters at the corner of Main Street and Camden-Wyoming Avenue, he said. With that building under contract to be sold, Camden Police must find a new place to store the bikes.
Council had discussed building a facility to store the bikes or fencing in an area at the town's maintenance building, Chaffinch said. But, clearly, no one on council was thrilled about either idea.
"I don't know where this is going," he said.
Bryson said the bikes in the possession of Camden PD were either stolen or found by people in the community and turned into the police. The bikes could be disposed of if no one came forward to claim them after a year, he said.
Page 2 of 2 - The bikes, which tend to pile up, were often untraceable because the serial numbers had never been registered, Bryson said.
"At some point down the road, we're going to need a new place for bicycle storage," Bryson said. "We've got to maintain them somewhere and we don't have a place here. The attic here [at the Camden Municipal Complex] is used for records storage and it's almost full."
IF YOU GO
WHO Camden Town Council
WHAT Regularly scheduled monthly meeting
WHEN 7 p.m. Monday
WHERE Camden Municipal Complex, 1783 Friends Way, Camden, DE
CONTACT (302) 697-2299