2012-08-31 / Community

Experience not necessarily needed at PD

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


The South Portland Police Department is looking to bring on another officer to replace Officer Brian McCarthy, who is on military leave in Afghanistan. Police said a place for the new officer will likely open even after McCarthy returns from his leave because almost 30 percent of the department is eligible for retirement. (Jack Flagler photo) The South Portland Police Department is looking to bring on another officer to replace Officer Brian McCarthy, who is on military leave in Afghanistan. Police said a place for the new officer will likely open even after McCarthy returns from his leave because almost 30 percent of the department is eligible for retirement. (Jack Flagler photo) SOUTH PORTLAND — With one South Portland police officer on military leave, and a number who are eligible to retire at the end of this year, the South Portland Police Department is hiring a new officer to avoid finding itself shorthanded.

Officer Brian McCarthy and other members of the Maine Army National Guard 488th Military Police Unit left on July 21 to train in Texas and New Mexico before traveling overseas to Afghanistan. They departed after a send-off ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center, when the soldiers’ families –– including McCarthy’s wife and daughter –– had a chance to say goodbye.

South Portland Police Lt. Frank Clark said that when McCarthy returns in September, the expectation is that the officer hired to replace him will remain with the department because a large percentage of officers on the force are currently eligible for retirement.

Clark said four more officers will become eligible for retirement this December, which is on the high end of the usual number, bringing the total to 15 officers, or nearly 30 percent of the force.

That number does not represent a “crisis point” for the department, Clark said, as there are always a certain number of officers who can put in their two weeks notice to retire. He said the hiring and retirement process is “cyclical,” but he added, “It is concerning looking forward that we have that number of people who can retire at a moment’s notice.”

The potential for more retirements and new hires comes at a time in which the department has experienced an unusual amount of turnover, said Chief Ed Googins. Officers Ryan Le, Jefferey Warren, Alfred Giusto and Michael Armstrong have all come on within the last eight months to fill positions vacated by officers who either retired, or, in the case of former officer Jason Pitcher, resigned for a new position in the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Clark said the department has added 18 officers since 2006.

One additional new officer, Jared Nabel, is set to join the force after he completes his training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. Clark said another reason the department needs to plan ahead in its hiring is the academy’s schedule. Officers brought on the force who attend the academy may have a gap of a number of weeks between the point they are hired and when they can actually join the force.

But that doesn’t mean candidates for the open position in the department must already be trained. Although the department considers trained, “blue pin” candidates from other departments, that’s not a requirement.

“We’re looking for the best candidates out there interested in being officers for our department,” Googins said.

He said the department has even rejected certified officers in the past, so lack of training should not deter an interested candidate from applying. Clark echoed that opinion.

“I don’t want to have people who want to serve the community who don’t have police experience think they’re not good potential candidates,” Clark said.

Officer McCarthy’s mother, Bernadette Manly, said her son is looking forward to rejoining his family and the South Portland police force next September after a year working with local police forces in Afghanistan to maintain security in the country.

This will be McCarthy’s second recent tour of duty overseas. He served in Baghdad in 2006 as a staff sergeant. When he returned, he joined the South Portland police force. In 2009, he was named officer of the year.

“He loves his job at the South Portland Police Department. From the time he was very young, his interest has always been in people. He’d say he’d be a policeman and an Army man,” Manly said. “He and his brother (Gill) are both driven to do the best for the country and the community. That’s just the way they are.”

The deadline to apply for the vacant position in the department is Thursday, Sept. 13. To apply, visit the department’s Facebook page or website at southportland.org/ pd.

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