BLANCHESTER — The village hopes a training reimbursement plan will draw in potential police applicants.
At Thursday’s Blanchester Village Council meeting, members approved one of three proposed plans that would reimburse 50% of an officer’s cost of basic certification training after two years of employment.
The plan would reimburse 50% of an officer’s cost of basic certification training. This would be a one-time payment out of the village’s budget totaling $3,500 or less, making contractual provisions simple.
The three plans were suggested by Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt and Village Solicitor Katie Wilkin as a way to “increase the number of incoming applicants for the position of police officer.”
“I’m not trying to rush anybody into something they don’t want to do,” said Reinbolt. “But I think I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out the urgency of the problem.”
Reinbolt told council they haven’t had any applicants for their opening after weeks of advertising.
“If I have another one leave, I don’t know what I’m going to do to cover all the shifts we have to maintain 24/7 coverage,” said Reinbolt. “We have to do something and we have to do it quick. Or else we’re going to find ourselves in a bit of pickle.”
He said he believes the village is on the “cutting edge” with the reimbursement plan, saying he hasn’t seen anyone else doing this.
The other two proposals were a student loan payment plan and an hourly pay plan.
The student loan proposal would make monthly payments on behalf of the officer, as long as they’re employed as an officer; the increase plan would raise the officer’s hourly pay to match the Wilmington Police’s pay.
Wilkin described the student loan proposal as “the most complex plan” due to the complexity of student loans.
“Most officers, most people who work in the public sector are hoping for the public interest forgiveness for ten years,” said Wilkin. “Because of that, there’s all these different plans that you then have to fill out paperwork each year to re-up it.”
Wilkin told council if they did a contract saying they would pay that every month, they’d have to have a provision of some kind saying the employee would have to keep it current. The other issue, she said, is the fluctuation and increase in costs.
“During COVID-19 when they suspended payments … they actually increased payment interests at the same time,” she said.
As for the “hourly increase” plan, the total cost for the first year would be over $132,000 the first year. It would also increase the pay of current officers.
Councilmember Reilly Hopkins expressed support for the reimbursement plan, also believing the range increase needs to happen at some point.
“The thing with option three is we need a more consistent fund to draw from,” said Hopkins.
Councilmember Harry Brumbaugh also supported the reimbursement plan, adding they could look at how to make a range increase in the future.
Also during council:
• Ron Johnson spoke in opposition to appropriating a parking lot into a park or using it for anything else other than parking. He told Mayor John Carman and council that he had spoken with “every business person” on Main and Broadway Street and they didn’t want it to be closed down.
“I would think that with that kind of money we could find something else to do with it or another project,” he said.
Robert Richland, owner of Blanchester Jewelry and Collectibles, shared photos indicating how using the parking lot for anything other than parking result in losing businesses in the downtown area.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574