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Police and fire

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York gestures toward Mayor Tom Henry as he announces on Monday at Citizens Square that the city plans to hire 20 new patrol officers.

FWPD plans to hire 20 officers

Local option income tax will offset $1.6 million cost

City officials and the Fort Wayne Police Department on Monday announced plans to set aside more than $1.6 million to add 20 new police officers next year.

The additional funds for the 20 officers will come from taxpayer dollars collected through a local option income tax approved by the City Council, officials said.

Each officer will cost about $81,000 including salary, benefits, insurance and training, Chief Rusty York said.

“Today is a great step for our community as we become a more safe and bright city,” Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said. “ … I salute our public safety officials who dedicate their lives to protecting us and making a city that is built for success.”

The announcement came a week after the Fort Wayne Fire Department announced a $1.2 million plan to hire 15 firefighters, also using the local option income tax.

The last time the fire department hired a new class of firefighters was in 2008. In the past five years, the fire department has reduced staffing levels and cut positions to offset the cost, Fire Chief Amy Biggs said earlier this year.

For the new class of police officers, the scheduled start date, including training, is February 10, 2014, with officer graduation scheduled for June 27, 2014.

All officers will undergo six months of supervised probation before being released to patrol, York said.

“We’re operating efficiently right now, but the whole application process takes approximately 20 weeks,” York said.

The new class of officers will be selected from a pool of applicants that was compiled last fall, York said. All of those candidates have been contacted, he said.

The physical agility test, among the first steps of the application and hiring process, will be administered later this week, York said.

The last time the Fort Wayne Police Department hired a new class of police officers was in September 2011.

This year’s class is the 60th in the department’s history, York said.

The 20 new candidates will bring the department to a total of 450 officers, York said.

“This allows us to maintain our staffing levels and we appreciate that so much,” he said.

Promotions announced

Also on Monday, York announced the promotion of four Fort Wayne Police Department officers.

•Steven Reed, a 20-year veteran, will be transferred to the Fort Wayne Police Academy to serve as the director of training. He was previously Deputy Chief of the Southwest Division.

•Stephen J. Haffner, a 23-year veteran, was promoted to deputy chief of the Southwest Division. He was previously captain of the Southwest Division.

•Derrick W. Westfield, a 17-year veteran, was promoted to captain of the Southwest Division. He was previously a sergeant of the Northwest Division and a supervisor with the Emergency Services Team.

•Brian C. Williams, a 15-year veteran, was promoted to sergeant of B-shift operations. He was previously a plainclothes detective with the Neighborhood Response Team, a unit that focuses on career criminals.