Town to sponsor second police officer in academy

by Geoff Fox

In an effort to boost the Hancock Police Department to four full time officers, the Town of Hancock is sponsoring two officers through police academy with the condition that they work as Hancock Police officers for at least three years.

Right now, the town has two full time officers – Chief Rick Cook and Officer Shawn Faith – and two part time officers – Scott Wolff and James Robison.

One officer candidate, Daniel Baker, is working his way through the academy.

The second candidate, who was unanimously approved last Wednesday, March 13, during the town meeting is Seth Hall.

Councilman Tim Boyer brought the idea before officials and said he and Councilman Leo Murray thought they’d like to sponsor the candidate. Boyer and Murray are both police commissioners.

Boyer said in preparation for that candidate, the Hancock Police Department held a physical fitness test for all applicants and interviews for those who passed.

Hall is a “local boy,” Boyer said, and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“This is definitely a path that he wants to head down,” he said. “Seems very content to be here in Hancock.”

Mayor Ralph Salvagno praised the process and everything they went through to find the candidate.

The cost to the town to sponsor the police candidates is $1,500 for the six and a half month course at Hagerstown Community College. Hall would also be paid as he goes through the academy and would have a three-year contract start upon graduation.

Boyer said if the officers decided police work wasn’t for them, the cost to the town would be prorated and have to be paid back by the candidate. If officers were to leave for another department, then the whole cost of the academy would be paid back to the town, said Boyer.

“At this point this is our best situation to get our police force up to full staff,” Boyer said.

Once Baker and Hall complete the academy, Faith said there are three steps in an FTO or Field Training Officer.

The candidate must ride with a certified officers and shadow them. During the second step, the officer would work along with a certified officer. In the third step, the candidate works independently and is evaluated by a certified officer.

“If we feel they’re doing okay, then they’re released off the FTO program to be handling calls themselves,” Faith said.

If there are no snags, Faith estimated the Hancock Police Department could be at full force with all officers working on their own by Thanksgiving.