Police department short two officers

The Wilton Police Department is running short of two officers in the patrol division, with no immediate resolution in sight.

The department is supposed to have 45 officers and brass, and is down to 43 since the retirement of former Chief Robert Crosby and the records officer.

“As you may know, the process of hiring a new officer takes approximately one year to fill with a viable and certified police officer,” said Chief John Lynch, explaining the predicament.

The matter was brought to light by First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice at a meeting of the Board of Selectmen May 23.

“The mandated training time is six months at the police academy and three months in field training here in Wilton. This is why it is rare that we actually have 45 certified officers available to us,” Lynch said.

The loss of the records clerk means the job must be covered by someone else as soon as possible.

“Records is an important and required role in the police department. There are mandates and reporting requirements that we must follow. Because of the depth of the work and overall process, we need to train an officer as soon as possible. There are many facets to the position, so it will take weeks to have someone well versed in the process,” Lynch said.

With that said, the department will now be two officers short in patrol, which will affect daily operations and shift coverage, according to Lynch.

“We will fill in as needed with any available personnel, but it will most likely create an increase in our overtime costs,” he said.

The department is looking for new officers to fill the vacancies. However, the next academy date available open to Wilton is in October, Lynch said.  This applies to uncertified officers.

“We are also seeking qualified officers who are already certified by the state of Connecticut, which will shorten the training period to approximately six weeks. We currently have a few officers who transferred from other departments, which has helped save on training costs and provided us with valuable experience.”

Adding conflict to the problem is that the final state budget may affect the overall bottom line in Wilton, Lynch said.  

“We will know what the outcome is before we commit to hiring any new officers. We may need to make adjustments based upon the final budget numbers. We are working with the selectmen and police commission on this,” the chief said.