A search for police officers for the city of Tompkinsville continued this week.
The city lost seven police officerss when they submitted letters of resignation as full-time employees of the Tompkinsville Police Department in August. Their resignation left the city with three certified police officers and two new hires.
One of the newly-hired employees is attending school to become a police officer and the city is trying to see if there is a slot available to send the other new hire to school in September.
The city would like to have at least eight police officers.
“We've got all the applications that they went through. They've mailed the letters out to them and they are going to come and do their POPS test this Saturday,” Mayor Scotty Turner said.
The POPS test is a physical agility test.
“Of course we are going to hire the three to four best ones out of that group,” he said.
Some cities require police officers to sign contracts, stating they will stay with the department for a certain length of time before leaving to take a job with another department.
“We are currently working on one. We don't have one right now,” Turner said. “That's one of the things we are working on to enforce in the future.”
Rumors have been circulating as to why the seven police officers left, one of which was in regard to no longer receiving overtime.
“When I talked to them about overtime, I didn't tell them they couldn't have overtime. I told them we needed to cut back on overtime,” the mayor said. “Being a police officer, you never know what kind of situation you are going to get in so I know you're going to have overtime.
“We told them we wanted to cut back on as much overtime (as we could). We were averaging anywhere from two to 10 hours per officer in overtime a week. We were going to try to cut back on what we could.”
Another rumor was that there would only be one police officer assigned to work per shift.
“We still have two (police officers working per shift),” Turner said. “That was one of the things. As far as the overtime and stuff went, they may try to do some split shifts where we will have one officer on duty some of the time, but we wouldn't have one officer on duty all of the time.”
The mayor explained plans were to rotate the split shifts so that it wouldn't be public knowledge that there was one police officer on duty working.
There were also rumors regarding the city's financial status.
Turner explained that September is always a lean time for the city, but that things pick back up by October.
“Of course we always to to the first of October and then we start getting our property tax money in and our payroll tax and everything comes in October,” he said. “Everything picks back up to normal. I've told them all the whole time, every since I've been mayor for five years, if a man can survive through September, everything goes back to normal in October.”
Some of the police officers spoke to Turner before they resigned.
“I told them this is what's going on right now and I explained to them that it is the time of the year and everything. We had 11 officers. I told them I wanted to cut back to eight and I wasn't going to hire any more until we got down to eight and then I would start hiring them back,” he said. “I did tell them that.”
Turner also said each police officer stated in their resignation letter that they had other jobs they were going to when they left the police department.
“I will tell any of my employees, 'If you want to take a better job that pays better and it's going to be better for your family and everything, I'm not going to stand in your way and try to talk you out of it because that's the whole reason you work is to support your family and be able to furnish for them and make your life as best as you can,” he said.
The mayor continued that about 90 percent of the police officers were great at their jobs.
“The way I'm looking at this is it gives me the opportunity to hire eight more potentially great police officers (for) Tompkinsville,” Turner said. “We've got the potential over there and now they've got the opportunity to step in and prove themselves and make themselves into a good officer and help the city of Tompkinsville. And that's what I'm looking forward to.”
Tompkinsville is not the only city that has lost police officers.
Cave City also has lost police officers and has a force composed of about seven.
“We're fixing to lose two more,” Cave City Police Chief Darrell Butler said during the Cave City Council meeting Monday.
One of the police officers, Michael Stevenson, who is leaving Cave City, is taking a position with the Barren County Sheriff's Office and the other, Chris Edwards, is taking a job with the Glasgow Police Department, he said.
On Monday, one applicant was hired for a position with the Cave City Police Department.
“He's coming from Glasgow. He will be starting in two weeks. His name is Jeff Childress,” Butler said.
The police chief told the city council that the police department has placed an advertisement with Monster.com and that he expects to do some interviews next week.
After hiring Childress, the police department will still be short thee police officers, he said.
“We may end up having to send some to the academy. That's just part of it,” Butler said.
Councilwoman Beverly Ford asked Butler if he is having to pay the police officers a lot of overtime to make up for the lack of employees.
Butler told her he has not had to pay the police officers a lot of overtime as of yet, but that in the coming weeks he may have to do that.
Councilman John Grissom questioned Butler on the reason for losing police officers, and Butler told him it was for various reasons.
One of the police officers has always wanted to work for the sheriff's office, while the other one is leaving due to lower health insurance premiums.
Grissom told Butler he hates for the city to keep losing police officers.
“We are going to have to figure out something to keep employees,” Grissom said, and Butler agreed.
The police department has recently hired three police officers.