NEW CUMBERLAND - Officials here are holding a special meeting on Monday to discuss the future of the New Cumberland Police Department.
Mayor Linda McNeil said the meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. in the New Cumberland Municipal Building, was called by City Council to address the issue of turnover in the police department.
"For years our town has served as a stepping stone for law enforcement officers," McNeil said. "We hire, pay for academy training and buy the bulletproof vests and uniforms. Then they move on to other law enforcement agencies, and I don't blame them for bettering their positions."
But that situation can't continue, the mayor said.
Currently, the New Cumberland Police Department is comprised of part-time Chief Lester Skinner and full-time Lt. Jeremy Krzys, and has two patrolman vacancies. The most recent vacancies were created when newly sworn officer Brian Cave left for the West Virginia State Police Academy in July and Patrolman Eric Maruca was hired by the Chester Police Department.
Skinner, also a full-time lieutenant with the Wellsburg Police Department, said he is screening candidates for the full-time positions and has hired two part-time officers to help fill the schedule in the meantime.
The city wants to have two officer candidates ready to enter the police academy by January.
Skinner said the police department is doing its best to "work with the hand we were dealt with."
McNeil said city officials are looking for ways to "stabilize" the police department and keep officers on the force longer. She said there is "no truth" to the rumors that the police department is closing.
"We are fortunate to have the dedicated services of (Skinner and Krzys), who have stayed with us over several of these (personnel) moves. It is not acceptable to let this continue," McNeil said. "We have residents asking for more patrols and more drug enforcement."
New Cumberland is not the only Northern Panhandle city with turnover issues in its police department. Chester hired Maruca after new Patrolman Markas Dunlevy resigned just prior to entering the police academy.
Monday's meeting will include City Council and the New Cumberland Police Committee, which is composed of McNeil, Ward 1 Councilman Brian Webster, Ward 2 Councilwoman Judith Bartley and seven city residents.