Utica police department to become less experienced

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - Utica's Police Department is becoming less experienced -- but the streets awaiting all those new recruits aren't getting any less violent.

Just this past weekend, a fatal stabbing and double shooting. And this time next year, UPD will have what many say is an unprecedented number of new recruits with only a year or less on the job -- and that's something that concerns the chief.

"Supervising that many new employees all at once becomes very difficult," said Utica Police Chief Mark Williams. "There are liability concerns. There's experience that's obviously not there. There may be things overlooked."

By May of 2015, 40 UPD employees are eligible to retire, when the city's health care agreement with the department expires. Of those UPD asked, 25 plan to go for sure and another five say they might. There's not a lot of experience at management level either. Average time in the position for sergeants at UPD is three years, and for lieutenants, a year and a half.

Why are they hemorrhaging employees? In part, because those who go in their 20th year get a lump sum incentive of 20 percent of their last year's salary. The union says they've suggested extending that, and the soon-to-expire health care agreement.

According to Mayor Robert Palmieri, it may be not so much an element of health insurance. It maybe that they're simply looking to move on. He says because it's a physically and mentally demanding position, some may be ready for a quieter life.

Even with a green light to hire, it's a full year from the point of hire until a new officer can patrol on their own.

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