(WKTV) - The Utica Police Department is about to find itself a bit top-light, as a large chunk of the department's command-level staff is about to retire, or slide to cover those vacancies.
Two of the department's three captains are retiring at the end of the month; two of five lieutenants will fill those vacancies while another two are retiring. In addition, five sergeant vacancies need to be filled. The department in reality and on paper are two very different things.
"On paper, we're stated to have a complement of 163, when in reality we have somewhere around 124-125 working bodies," says Police Chief Mark Williams.
Williams and Mayor Robert Palmieri this week will begin interviewing job candidates. All capable individuals, says Chief Williams, yet unavoidably lacking in a critical area.
"Not only do they leave with all that experience, but a lot of those people who are leaving, these five people that are retiring, many of them have multiple, specialized training roles that they play for the agency," Williams said. "And you just don't replace it overnight."
The chief acknowledges that means there will be growing pains, and also says the department may find itself leaning on mutual coverage agreements with outside agencies more than in the past.
The chief hopes to have the positions filled by the end of February, primarily for the sake of public safety, but also to avoid a costly spike in overtime.
The chief says 2015 will bring little relief. Forty-two officers will be eligible for retirement next year, and because their healthcare agreement with the city expires in June of '15, many are expected to leave and avoid the uncertainty of renegotiations.