Council members voted 5-1 with Dunn dissenting, to lift the hiring freeze in place since January and add two patrol officers, to replace the two who resigned for other opportunities. The third position, formerly held by Sgt. Mike Kane, will remain vacant until the next budget cycle.
“We have an approved budget for 22 officers,” Esarove said. “If going forward, we choose to change that, so be it.” As it stands, Esarove said the town had an obligation to fill those spots.
Interim Chief David Hearne told council members that he currently has fourteen officers on patrol, with usually three on the streets at the beginning of each shift. Responding to Frost’s question about getting backup from the sheriff’s office, Hearne pointed out that current deputies already had assignments to deal with.
“They don’t have time to worry about Stallings,” Hearne said. “If my life was in danger, then yes, they would leave their property damage call.”
Dunn pointed out that in 2007, a manpower study showed Stallings needed eight to 12 officers, which is why he didn’t support hiring more.
“As far as I’m concerned, until we do another manpower study, I’m going to believe [the one we have],” Dunn said.
Also in the meeting, the town officially accepted Sgt. Kane’s resignation from the force. He had been suspended without pay pending an investigation into his arrest for drunk driving in Monroe earlier this fall.