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25 new Syracuse police officers could help alleviate overtime concerns

Tom Magnarelli
Some of the new Syracuse police officers after their swearing-in ceremony.

The city of Syracuse swore in a new class of police officers on Monday. The new recruits are filling spots being vacated by retiring officers and helping to cut down on overtime.

Kimberly Dishaw of Syracuse is one of the 25 new officers.

“I’m just overwhelmed, excited, ready to start class,” Dishaw said.

The officers now begin 26 weeks at the police academy before another 12 weeks of field training. Speaking to the new recruits, Police Chief Frank Fowler told them it is a challenging time to be an officer.

"Some may even ask themselves, 'why would someone want to go into this profession at this particular time?'" Fowler said. "It takes special people to do this special job. You have to be able to communicate. You have to be able to maintain, embrace and understand the importance of public trust."

Fowler said communication is key because people are going to be the officers' best resources for information and evidence.

Sgt. Richard Helterline of the Syracuse Police Department said the department is a little behind with keeping up their personnel numbers as more officers begin retiring.

Syracuse City Auditor Martin Masterpole said his department is in the preliminary stages of an audit looking into police overtime. He said hiring new recruits could help alleviate some of that.  Masterpole said it might be worth revisiting a union provision that requires police officers to be paid a minimum amount of overtime when they get called in, regardless of how long the officer works.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner agreed there is a direct correlation between how many officers they have and how much overtime is needed.

“Does our overtime fluctuate?" Miner asked. "Yes. We’ve had vacancies and the more vacancies we have the more overtime we have but we watch it very carefully.”

Masterpole said he hopes to complete the audit before June.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.