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Poland Village looks at police wages, retention

POLAND — Village trustees held a long discussion about increasing police officers’ step increases and how the department can attract and keep officers moving forward.

“We have seven full-time officers besides myself,” police Chief Don Lambert said. “Five were hired within the last two years. Hiring officers has become a hard thing to do. Officers today are being pirated and offered big signing bonuses. We can’t do that here.”

Lambert said he has a stack of applicants for full-time police work, but the applicants can’t afford to come to Poland Village. He said many want to come and work for the Village, but when they are offered much more from bigger departments, they are opting for the higher pay.

At the Feb. 20 village meeting, council approved the hiring of patrolman Mitchell Sauerwein at a rate of $20.34 per hour effective Feb. 13, 2024. To keep officers like Sauerwein, the village is discussing an ordinance dealing with the step increases.

“Our police chief is the manager of these officers,” said Councilman Michael Zembower. “We should leave [wages and step increase] up to him.”

Lambert already determines how much an officer makes. Officers are eligible for an increase from 0-2 years, 3-6 years, and 7-10 years. However, the discussion is about whether the increases will be a dollar amount or a percentage.

Council President Michael Thompson the council could vote annually on increases that are suggested by Lambert.

Village Solicitor Joseph Macejko said he would work on the ordinance.

Council also approved spending up to $9,558.96 from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund to provide radio brackets, light bars, cages and decals for the new Village police cars.

On a different matter, the village discussed how a culvert near Western Reserve Joint Fire District Station 91 in the village is failing.

Poland Village Street Commissioner George Porterfield said he has one quote for $27,000 from a company called BOVA and had a verbal quote of between $7,500 to $10,000 for the repairs.

Thompson suggested asking the fire board if they could help pay for some of it since it is on fire station property. He said he believes the fire station is a village property leased to the fire district.

He said he would bring it up at the next fire board meeting.

Porterfield also requested council approve funding for a lift for the street department so maintenance can be done in a safer atmosphere. He said right now the trucks are raised on multiple jacks for some maintenance. No decision was made at the meeting.

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