The town of Camden has no plans to hire a full-time police officer anytime soon, but it may entertain hiring part-time help to assist a police department that has had trouble filling its 24-hour shifts when illnesses or injuries pop up.
Camden Town Council discussed the matter at its Monday night meeting but took no action after Camden Police Chief William Bryson said it would not be economically feasible to hire a full-time officer at this time within the town's $1.9 million budget despite finance manager Patrick Cullen's Monday night report that the town was 11 percent above its projected revenue forecast.
But council took the good news cautiously given that Cullen reported that expenses were up 8 percent as well.
Bryson said an entry level salary and benefits for a police officer would cost $67,626.60 for the first year for salary, benefits and other costs associated with weapons, uniforms and the Delaware State Police Academy at Delaware Tech, Bryson said.
"I just don't see where the budget can support it right now," he said. "Before we hire another officer at this point, I think we should look at hiring part time."
Bryson reported the figures to council in response to Councilman John Green's request to see if the town needed another police officer and if it could afford to hire without a tax increase.
The issue of hiring an additional police officer most recently came up at council's Dec. 4 meeting when Green asked Bryson if he could use some help during the busy Christmas shopping season.
The Camden PD has 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 this past autumn, when thefts and robberies were at their highest, Bryson said.
Bryson said his department could fill the 24-hour shift, seven days per week provided it did not run into any long-term illnesses or injuries.
Green reiterated the stance he took 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.
"We don't do this if it means a tax increase," he said. "We don't do this if we don't having funding."
Mayor W.G. Edmanson said he was glad to hear that because he ran for election in February 2012 on a platform to not raise taxes. Edmanson said he was all for public safety but did not want the town to hire someone it could not afford to pay in the future.
Namely, Edmanson did not want Camden to hire an officer that would be laid off in the near future or whose salary would be paid for with a tax increase.
Page 2 of 2 - "In my experience looking at tax money, the hardest thing to do is to not spend the money," he said. "We collectively are very, very frugal."