Hiring practices of sheriff’s dept. eyed by officials

JOHNSTOWN – A Fulton County Sheriff’s Department personnel item recently caused discussion among county officials about whether it is better to hire new deputies from other departments or fresh off police training.

Capt. David Curtis – on behalf of Sheriff Thomas Lorey -brought a personnel matter to the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee at the County Office Building.

The committee passed a proposed resolution to create a permanent deputy position and fill a temporary deputy position. Curtis said a sergeant assigned to the sheriff’s Investigations Department retired March 27. Lorey requested that position be filled, as well as the backfilling of a position on a temporary basis.

“There is no change in the number of positions,” Curtis said.

The full board will consider approval of the personnel changes April 14.

Lorey, in his written request to the committee, that is “very difficult” to fill temporary deputy positions.

Johnstown 2nd Ward Supervisor Michael Kinowski commented generally about the hiring for new positions in the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.

“It seems like we always go for people from other [police] departments,” he said.

Hiring of officers from other departments, who are already trained, is referred to as a lateral transfer.

Kinowski said he was not clear on the cost of training new officers. But he stated, “We seem to have problems with some of the people hired from other [police] departments.”

Northampton Supervisor James Groff, who has law enforcement experience, said much money can be invested in hiring officers. With those who are already trained, he stated: “You have a better chance of keeping everybody.”

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the cost of training a new officer used to be about $20,000, but he wasn’t sure of the cost now.

Groff said many officers in small village police departments seek out lateral transfers.

Stratford Supervisor Robert E. Johnson Jr. asked if Fulton-Montgomery Community College couldn offer courses to train police officers.

Groff said the officer candidate must go to a sanctioned police academy. He said Lorey has lost three or four of his last officers to the Gloversville and Johnstown police departments, where benefits might be better than with the county.

Even after six-month training involving various course work – including handling domestic violence cases, accidents and suicides – Groff said “a lot of people don’t want to do it” and never follow through.