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Hollis police looking to hire more officers

HOLLIS — The Hollis Police Department wants to hire more patrol officers in the coming fiscal year.

During a joint budget workshop between the Budget Committee and selectmen Monday night, Hollis Police Chief James Sartell said he's hoping to fill the equivalent of two full-time patrol officers next year. The most likely scenario would be the hiring of part-time officers to fill those hours.

As part of the plan, part-time salaries would increase from $13,302 to $33,670 next year. Overall, the police department plans on spending an additional $36,810 on staffing next year, should the proposed 2014 budget pass with voters come March.

Recent retirements and resignations have left vacancies this past year, meaning a portion of those vacant positions is already budgeted for the current year.

Sartell said the department has "had some unique staffing issues" recently, with retirements, resignations and officer sick leave resulting in the department running at emergency staffing levels over the past year.

"Really, it comes down to a mathematical issue of us requiring 40 hours of coverage each day," Sartell said on Monday.

Right now, there are 11 active police officers in Hollis, though 15 officers are the ideal number, Sartell said.

Sartell said there are two recent hires that are in training. Once those officers complete training, the number up active police officers will be 13.

The rural police force has seen increases in crime. Sartell said there's been a 9 percent increase in "total crimes against persons" and a 15 percent increase in "total crimes against society" this past year.

The Hollis Police Union is negotiating a new contract with the town. Overall, salaries are up 2 percent in the coming year, and non-union step increases are also included in the next year's police department budget.

The overall police budget is at $1,290,560 next year, which is a 2 percent increase over the current year's budget.

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