Fiorentini Proposes Hiring Part-Time Officers to Ease Haverhill Police Staffing Crunch

Chief Alan R. DeNaro delivered remarks during the Haverhill Police Department's memorial service on May 27, 2019. (WHAV News photograph)

Holding at 90 strong, the Haverhill Police Department is in a staffing crunch—that’s one thing Mayor James J. Fiorentini, Chief Alan R. DeNaro and City Councilors all agree on.

During Wednesday night’s police department budget conference, Fiorentini floated the idea of bolstering Haverhill’s ranks by hiring part-time or “intermittent” officers, also called “special” officers, to fill in on an as-needed basis and alleviate the crisis currently faced at the Bailey Boulevard station.

“We could have 10 or 20 more police officers on the streets fairly quickly if the union would allow me to hire intermittent or specials,” he said. “We’d have all the police that we’d need.”

Similar practices are in play in West Newbury, Salisbury and Manchester, N.H., Fiorentini said Wednesday. Haverhill, whose officers all must reside within 10 miles of city limits per Civil Service rules, recently hired Methuen intermittent officer Jonathan Pierce on a full-time basis.

While Fiorentini vows to push for the practice to improve public safety for all residents, Haverhill Police Patrolmen’s Association President Rick Welch tells WHAV it isn’t necessarily that simple.

All officers are bound by contracts through one of the city’s two police unions—as well as the state Civil Service rules, which would need to be adjusted to accommodate Fiorentini’s idea. In fact, the Patrolmen’s union has “tried” to resolve a similar staffing crunch three years ago to no avail in a similar manner, Welch said.

“We were hesitant in the beginning because our fear as a union is that they’d fail to hire full-time officers and just continually hire part-time officers to the point where maybe we’d tip the scales so that we’d have more intermittent officers than we do full-time officers,” Welch said. “We don’t think that would be beneficial to the police department or the city.”

As contract negotiations—which Welch has described to WHAV as “positive”—continue, more changes are on the way for the Haverhill Police Department after Wednesday night’s budget session.

The City Council voted unanimously to accept DeNaro’s request to add the budget for an additional sergeant to the tune of approximately $70,000.

Saying he was “100 percent happy in concept” with the budget, DeNaro told Councilors they wouldn’t regret adding the extra headcount.

“The sergeant will pay for himself and it’s a great position as far as efficiency is concerned,” he said.

The new sergeant is expected to assist with traffic and safety-related duties, DeNaro confirmed.

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