Town to Fill Two Police Vacancies

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Police Chief Adrian Baker

The Chestertown Police Department is seeking to fill two vacancies, Chief Adrian Baker told the Mayor and Council at their Dec. 3 meeting.

Baker said that he had had two certified officers as candidates for the openings a couple of weeks ago, but then both accepted positions with other departments that were closer to their hometowns. He said he had other candidates, including two from the local area. However, they would need to earn certification, which would require sending them to the police academy. That would cost roughly $40,000 and it would be six months before they complete the course. The candidates would need to enroll in the academy by January 4, which would require their completing a series of tests and other initial requirements by that date. In addition, to cover the vacancies, current officers would need to work overtime. He said the town might still be able to find a certified candidate to fill the gap, but it was not certain.

Baker said he had called in a favor from a friend who has a business near the academy, and who would be willing to house the two candidates there while they complete the course. That would cut some $16,000 in housing expenses from the cost of sending them to the academy, he said, reducing the cost to the town to about $25,000.

Mayor Chris Cerino asked whether the candidates would be committed to working for the town after they graduate. The usual procedure is to give new academy graduates a three-year contract, after which they are free to explore other opportunities, Baker said. If they leave the town’s police force before that time, they are expected to repay the cost of sending them to the academy.

Councilman Marty Stetson, a former town police chief, said that in his experience the cost is never repaid.

“We have been able to collect in some cases,” said Baker. He said new hires usually don’t “jump” before their contract is up.

Cerino said that if the two vacancies remain unfilled until the new hires finish the academy, the town would not have to pay the salaries for the two open positions. He asked if that would balance out the cost of the academy.

“It’s not a wash,” said Baker. Current officers would need to be paid overtime to cover all the shifts, and there is greater stress for officers working extra shifts. He said the department would do whatever was necessary to ensure coverage, “including working some shifts myself.”

Councilman David Foster asked how many current officers the town had sent to the academy. Baker said about 1/3 were sent to the academy by Chestertown, with the rest being experienced officers hired from other jurisdictions.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper asked if the expected proceeds from the sale of surplus town property might bring in enough to cover the academy cost.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the proceeds would probably come close, but that the sales were still not final. He said he would look at the budget and see where the money could be found. Recruiting new officers locally and sending them to the academy was a good investment in the future, he said since they were more likely to stay in the community. He said the council needed to agree in principle to fund the candidates’ time in the academy. “We can’t wait two or three weeks,” he said, noting that scheduling tests and other appointments could be tricky during the holiday season.

The council agreed to cover the cost of sending two candidates to the academy.

Lauren Frick of Washington College’s Enactus tells the council about a project to install electric car chargers for a rideshare program

Also at the meeting, Lauren Frick of Washington College’s Enactus chapter gave a presentation on a proposal to install chargers for electric cars in town, using them to support a ride share program. Enactus, a student organization partnering with local business leaders, aims to use innovative approaches to empower the economically disadvantaged. One of its recent projects was “Soap with Hope,” the sale of handmade soaps, with the proceeds used to help residents of developing countries improve sanitation and start their own Frick said that a preliminary study suggested that the town’s third ward might be a good location since a large number of residents of that area appear not to own vehicles.

She asked if the council would provide a letter of support for the project.

Council members had several questions about the logistics of the proposal. Frick said that users could reserve a car by using an app on their phones. Greenspot would cover insurance on the rideshare vehicles. She said there would be no cost to the town if the stations are installed on public land.

Cerino said the town would still have the costs of maintaining the property and performing general repairs. He said the recently refurbished town-owned marina might be a good spot for terminals, which would allow boaters coming into town to drive to local stores for supplies.

Kuiper said that a local business in the third ward had just installed chargers at its own expense and that they might not appreciate competition from a nonprofit using town property.

Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver said he appreciated the proposal to put the stations in his ward, where it might help people gain economic independence. “I hope it will bring in some entrepreneurial opportunities,” he said.

Ingersoll said he liked the idea of locating the stations in the marina, where there would be staff on hand to keep an eye on the operation.

Foster said that rideshares are very widespread in Washington State, where his son lives. He said his son gave up owning a car because it cost less to use a rideshare when he needed one.

Stetson said that most people in rural areas like Kent County need cars because there is no public transportation.

The council agreed to provide a letter of support.

The council adopted a resolution extending a tax credit to businesses building in the enterprise zone at the north end of town. It would give graduated tax credits over a 10-year period. Ingersoll said the town had promised to extend the credits at the time it annexed the property now being developed as the KRM Chestertown Business Campus, and that it would realize “a windfall” in property taxes once the campus is completed.

Also at the meeting, Cerino read a proclamation designating Jan. 22, 2019, a National Day of Racial Healing.

The council will be judging the Christmas decoration contest over the next couple of week, with winners to be announced at the first meeting in January. Two residential winners in each ward will be chosen by the council members, with the mayor choosing two commercial winners from the business district.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Hello,
    In your second picture for this article, the student pictured is not Maura West. Her name is Lauren Frick. If you could fix that, this would be great!

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