WILKES-BARRE — The city could begin hiring new officers by as early as next month to fill vacancies on the police force, Mayor Tony George said.
The department is down between four and six officers and has the money budgeted this year for approximately 80 officers, George said Friday.
A total of 96 candidates took the test administered by the Wilkes-Barre Police Civil Service Commission in October. Of the total, 65 passed with scores of 70 or higher. A physical agility test was administered in November.
The commission is in the process of certifying a list that should be ready next week, the mayor said. In addition, the commission is doing background checks and interviewing the candidates.
“The interviews are just about complete,” the mayor said.
Candidates with state Act 120 certification, which is required to work as a municipal officer, would be brought on quicker than those without it, said George, a former city police chief. “If they have the schooling, we can hire them right away,” he said.
The vacancies have contributed to police overtime costs.
According to a draft of December’s financial report, overtime for the patrol division was $207,835, or 207 percent of the $100,000 budgeted for 2017.
In the city’s $49.4 million balanced budget for this year, the patrol division has 64 spots, the most among the different operations within the force. The division’s staffing is made up of three lieutenants, six sergeants and 55 patrol officers. It’s budgeted $4.3 million in wages.