Months after working with the to implement a restructuring plan, staffing at Manchester's police department has returned to an acceptable level, said officials at a Tuesday morning promotion and new hire ceremony.
With the addition of two new hires on Jan. 30, eight officers have been hired over the last five months, Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski said. The department also filled supervisor positions that were vacated by by promoting officers Salvatore Ventri and Vincent Manco to sergeant and lieutenant, respectively.
"We've re-established the police department to where it should be," Klimakowski said. "I think that we put together a good plan. We put together a blueprint of where we wanted to head, and I think today is the end of this portion of where we're at."
In July, the department had 61 officers; even with retirements, that number now has risen to 64.
"This has been the fastest year in my life," said Mayor Michael Fressola, who worked with Klimakowski and other township administrators to restructure the police department. "I'm just so pleased to do what we've done today."
The chief said that plans made last year have helped to provide the framework for increasing force numbers, even as finances have made hiring and promoting officers a challenge for Manchester over the past few years. With the help of concessions by PBA Local 246 the to allow for rebuilding and in 2012 has reduced its salaries and wages budget by $125,000 from the previous year.
"We've done so much stuff in such a short amount of time," said Klimakowski, who who became chief on Feb. 1, 2011. In his 25 year career with Manchester's police department, Klimakowski said that he had never seen as few officers as in the past year. Without pay restructuring, the department could now have 57 officers.
"Those cost savings will hopefully enable us to get more people and bolster those numbers back to where they should be," the chief said in July. "We should be able to bring back more than we originally anticipated."
In 2008, the department reached its staffing peak with 68 officers. It is possible that more part-time officers may be hired this year, Klimakowski said.
The chief said that the current group of employees working at the department is "a really cohesive, good staff that are a bunch of hard workers."
"We're going to make a lot of positive change in the department," he said. "I think this is truly the first time when all of the pieces of the puzzle are working together and we're going to make tremendous progress over the next couple of years."