Police force working to restore staffing levels


POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie swore-in seven new police officers last week.  The hiring comes at a critical time when the department is short-staffed due to the retirement of several senior officers, with additional officers eligible to retire over the next few months.

The city Police Department is budgeted for 92 officers, and the seven new cops bring the number up to 85. Efforts to fill the ranks are continuing, according to city officials. As part of their recruitment strategy, city police officials are providing free help to city residents taking part in the upcoming Police Officer/Deputy Sheriff Exam offered by Dutchess County on September 18.

“We were down by 12 officers prior to this. The seven new hires gives us seven extra sets of hands that can help combat the challenges we’re facing in the community,” said Police Captain Rich Wilson. “We’re going to continue to be in a hiring phase to try and get the numbers to a level where we can adequately staff our policing efforts for the community.”

The police department has obtained a list of city residents scheduled to take the exam and wants to focus on hiring from within the community, one of the recommendations of the city’s Procedural Justice Committee that was included in the city’s Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative Plan sent to the state earlier this year.

“We are working diligently to recruit and hire more people from the city and have stepped up our efforts to reach people to take the examination,” said Police Chief Tom Pape. “With the examination being offered for free by the county and with free help available to prepare for the test, this is an excellent opportunity for those who want to join our ranks.”

The city police department has led efforts to have the Dutchess County Department of Human Resources alter requirements of candidates applying for and taking the countywide police entrance exam. These changes now require a candidate to possess a high school diploma or equivalency but not 60 college credits initially. A candidate who successfully completes the Dutchess County Law Enforcement Academy will graduate with 30 college credits through Dutchess Community College and the SUNY system.

Upon completion, the recruit will have five years to complete an additional 30 college credits. The city recognizes the importance of education and therefore will pay the cost for higher education as memorialized in its current collective bargaining agreement with the Police. The more rigid college requirements had long been cited by community members as an impediment to hiring more candidates from the City of Poughkeepsie community.

The city police department also conducts a “Careers in Law Enforcement” program for local students, in part, to create a path for more diversity on the force, Chief Pape pointed out.

“Like other communities, we need a multi-dimensional strategy to broaden diversity in our ranks. We are taking tangible strides to achieve this that are showing results,” said Mayor Rolison.

Popular Stories