Bourbon approves fifth police officer

BOURBON – An ongoing issue of police staffing was settled Tuesday at the regular meeting of the Bourbon Town Council. A recent resignation had prompted a consideration of whether or not to replace the full-time officer in the five-person department.

In recent meetings, Council members had mixed feelings due to budget considerations. While money is available now, it was not clear if financing would be adequate in the future.

Police Chief Bill Martin said that a four-officer force would have to work twelve-hour shifts. That would not account for necessary vacation and sick coverage. One possibility is to use part-time officers (usually off-duty members of another department’s force). That is not always controllable, Martin indicated, because their primary loyalty is to their full-time employment.

Another option is to fill in with police reserves, which the Bourbon department is currently beginning to train. These five individuals will not be ready to patrol by themselves for several weeks, and again, their primary loyalty would be to their employers, since their reserve service is voluntary.

At its May meeting, the Council instructed Martin to test the 12-hour shift model. He reported that after a month of usage, the force had adequately maintained 24-hour coverage. He indicated that the officers were tired, however, and repeated the concern that vacation and sick days were not covered.

After a full and free discussion of all issues involved, the Council voted unanimously to hire the fifth full-time officer.

(More on this topic and full coverage of the Bourbon town council meeting is available in the June 14 edition of The Pilot News.)