Parkland Press

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Changes are coming to police scheduling

Thursday, November 1, 2018 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Police Log

South Whitehall commissioners recently approved a two-year contract extension for police officers.

The contract authorizes a move from eight hour to 12-hour shifts.

Chief Glenn Dorney said, under the new arrangement, officers will work 80 hours in every two-week period.

They will have six, 12-hour days and one eight-hour shift in each two week pay schedule.

“It will be easier to manage and better for their families,” Dorney said. “They will have every other weekend with three days off and never work more than three days straight.

“It will have a platoon structure and a clear line of supervision.”

He noted under the previous system, officers would work six successive weekends before having off a weekend.

Dorney said two sergeants and four or five patrol officers will comprise a platoon.

The chief stated in addition to implementing the organizational and hourly work changes, he is planning to create a traffic unit and a community liaison officer.

He also envisions building up the force from its present 36 members to 41 or 42 as an ultimate goal.

Commissioners approved conditional offers of employment to six applicants for entry-level police positions.

“We continue working our way down the civil service list,” Dorney said. “They can get the tests done to confirm their fitness for duty.

“We had eight people a few months before, and some did not take the job. These are the next six names on the list.”

He noted three officers will be retiring next year and, with six months at the academy and time for field training, it is nearly a full year until a new police employee is on his or her own.

Township Manager Renee Bickel recalled the administration had a three-month conversation with the police bargaining unit to work out the 12-hour shift plan.

“We did not touch every part of the contract,” Bickel said. “Police wanted the 12-hour shifts.”

The present contract took effect in 2016 and was extended from Dec. 31, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2021.

The agreement includes a 3-percent pay raise.

Police officers voted and approved the document which will take effect Jan. 7, 2019.