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City’s police ranks expanding

February 13th, 2013

The understaffed City of Newburgh Police Department will receive the welcome addition of four new Police Academy graduates Friday during a ceremony at Anthony’s Pier 9.

Brian Southworth, Charles Cruz, Alvaro Farias and Ricardo Rivera were sworn in as officers this past Sept. 12 before beginning four months of training at the Police Academy. All four are city residents and three of the four are Spanish-speaking.

The ceremony on Friday will begin at 10 a.m. and the public is welcome to attend.

During the Newburgh City Council work session this past Thursday, Mayor Judy Kennedy said that she has written letters of congratulation to the officers, although she is out of town and will be unable to attend. She asked City Manager Rick Herbek, who said he will be at the ceremony, to present the letters.

Police Chief Michael Ferrara said that the officers are now scheduled to begin a six- to-eight-week orientation program.

More good news for the Police Department was announced at the City Council work session in the form of acknowledgment of a $32,000 2012 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant that the department will use to focus additional police presence in high crime areas of the city.

Herbek said that the funds can be used in such areas as street surveillance cameras, patrol vehicle acquisition or for an evidence management system.

News from the City Fire Department was less optimistic.

Fire Chief Michael Vatter notified the council that the city faces the loss of many of his department’s senior officers over the next year.

Vatter recommended that the city create a rank of temporary captain in order to provide a substitute for a captain who sustained a broken ankle last year.

“His doctors have indicated that he’s not going to return to work due to the nature of his injury,” Vatter said.

Following a broken ankle, his condition was complicated by blood clots, which was then further complicated by a muscular dystrophy-like illness.

“He’s indicated that he’s going to apply for disability retirement. He has his time in so he’s trying to figure what is the best way for him to go.”

Vatter said a second captain has been out of commission for more than a year, and his disability is being appealed after it was denied. A third captain is planning to retire within the next year.

“I’m losing all my captains within the next year,” Vatter said.

“What I’m asking to do is to fill one of those vacancies with a temporary rank of captain. What I’m looking at is that by this time next year, three assistant chiefs will retire, the [three] captains and two lieutenants will retire, eight senior officers will be leaving.”

This will take a lot of institutional memories out of the department, he said.

Kennedy asked Vatter if he has plans for promotional exams.

“That’s in the works,” he said. “We do have an assistant chief’s list that will expire sometime next year,” he responded.

Historically, the council can create temporary ranks by resolution. That could be accomplished at the council’s next meeting on Feb. 25.

By ALLAN GAUL
agaul@tcnewspapers.com

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