published Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Dalton, Ga., looking for a few good police officers

Officer Robert Kirkwood, left, talks with Sgt. Jamie Johnson in an office at the police services center in Dalton, Ga. The Dalton Police Department is hiring new officers to fill open positions on the force.
Officer Robert Kirkwood, left, talks with Sgt. Jamie Johnson in an office at the police services center in Dalton, Ga. The Dalton Police Department is hiring new officers to fill open positions on the force.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

The police department's patrol division budget:

2010 -- $4,103,295

2011 -- $4,059,150

2012 -- $4,025,665

DALTON POLICE DEPARTMENT

2010

Non-Sworn (Civilian) -- 15

Sworn officers -- 86

2011

Non-Sworn (Civilian) -- 14

Sworn officers -- 83

2012

Non-Sworn (Civilian) -- 13

Sworn officers -- 84

Dalton, Ga., police are looking for three patrol officers to fill vacancies resulting from retirement and turnover.

In 2009 and 2010, police Chief Jason Parker said, the turnover rates slowed and so did the urgency to replace those positions.

But the department was fortunate officials didn't have to freeze hiring during an economic downturn, police spokesman Bruce Frazier said.

Police numbers show enforcement shrank only by about five employees, including civilian positions and sworn officers, since 2010. The officer decrease was from three retirements in 2011, Frazier said.

The police department already has hired two officers this year and is accepting applications to hire three more, Frazier said. The positions are patrol officers with starting salaries at about $14.99 per hour, he said.

When officers retire or leave, the department normally promotes from within and then hires officers to fill the newly empty patrol positions, Assistant Police Chief Truman Whitfield said.

The hiring process takes about eight weeks and is a continuing process to keep the department at the desired staffing level, Whitfield said. Normally, when the police department opens hiring to the public, it receives hundreds of applications that will be narrowed to 15 to 20 candidates, he said.

Since the Georgia Public Safety Training Center started to allow civilians to become certified through the police academy without being sponsored by a law enforcement agency, police officials like to hire candidates already certified when possible, Whitfield said.

"It's a cost saving," he said.

Newly hired applicants are funded through the police department to go to the academy. But Whitfield said being certified before getting hired isn't a requirement when they look at applications.

"We're looking for qualified applicants," he said. "We're more than happy to send somebody to the academy."

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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