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LEETONIA Hiring of 4 dispatchers eases police chief's mind



Published: Thu, August 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



At one point there were just two dispatchers available to cover weekend shifts.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LEETONIA -- With four new dispatchers, Police Chief John Soldano is breathing a bit easier these days.

Two dispatchers are being trained and two others have completed training and are working on their own, he said.

A cautiously optimistic Soldano said having the dispatchers on staff should allow patrolmen who have been covering some dispatching shifts to return to their regular duties.

"It has been quite a time, down to bare bones," Soldano said. "It has been a case of everyone working together, chipping in to take care of things."

With an annual budget of $214,000 for his salary and that of 10 police officers and eight dispatchers, the dispatching staff is always short-handed, Soldano explained.

Critical: The situation became critical in June as dispatchers resigned or took maternity leave.

At one point there were just two dispatchers available to cover weekend shifts.

Three of the last five dispatchers who left the department did so for jobs with better wages and benefits packages, he said.

One dispatcher who resigned in June did so after two weeks of training and one week of work.

Council raised starting pay of dispatchers from $6.90 to $7.57 per hour in June. Soldano said some area departments pay dispatchers as much as $10 per hour.

He said the 2002 budget discussions must include improving incentives for dispatchers.

With the village paying wages only and no benefits for the part-time employees, people can work at fast food restaurants or department stores for about the same money and have far less responsibility, he said.




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