The Ledyard Police Department is considering hiring more officers as a solution to its overtime budget problem.
"It's a real challenge,” said Ledyard Police Chief John Rich about the department’s issue.
This fiscal year the Ledyard Police Department was allotted $143,500 dollars for overtime. But with two officers out for work-related injuries, they’ve already spent about $159,007, and it’s only half way through the fiscal year, according to Rich.
"This current fiscal year, there won't be sufficient funds in other parts of our budget to cover (the spending),” Rich said.
Plus overtime costs could rise between $247,125 and $296,550 before the fiscal year is out, he added.
That’s why Rich is working with the town's finance committee and exploring the option of hiring another officer or two. Rich said right now there aren't enough officers to cover extended absences without significantly deepening the overtime budget even further.
Mayor Michael Finkelstein, who was a Ledyard officer for 26 years, said there is merit to the idea and it's worth crunching the numbers.
“You can do more traffic, more enhanced enforcement type things, more proactive policing,” he said.
Depending on the candidate – experience and whether a family benefit package is needed -- another officer could approximately cost between $73,000 and $95,000, according to Rich.
People who live in town said more police is a good thing.
“I don't mind. The more police the better,” said Irene Blazas of Ledyard.
“It would make me feel safer,” said Roland Foster of Ledyard.
Rich says right now it's about figuring out what the most cost effective option is.
“I think that's kind of what we're struggling with: What is the tipping point?"
Ledyard Police said the town’s finance committee will look at the proposal again on Wednesday Jan. 18 and decide how to move forward. That plan would then go to the town council.