Smyrna Town Council approved a measure at their Jan. 22 meeting to add two corporal positions to the Smyrna Police Department this year.

The recommendation came as a result of discussions within several town committees, including the Personnel Committee. The measure fits in with the Personnel Committee's current effort to create a succession plan for town employees so staff members can be promoted, and so the town has employees to promote should someone leave or retire.

Police Chief Wil Bordley introduced council to the idea of adding two corporal positions with the help of a PowerPoint presentation. Bordley said the benefits of adding additional ranks include career development opportunities, leadership opportunities, and the move would help with department moral.

Bordley pointed out that he was groomed as a police officer in the department, starting out as a patrolman and working his way up to police chief. Bordley said his officers deserve that same type of opportunity.

The idea of adding ranks would also help from a logistics standpoint, Bordley said. Currently, the department includes one chief, two lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, and 12 officers. Bordley said the current structure is bottlenecked in that there should be more corporals than sergeants. Therefore, without the need of actually hiring more officers, Bordley recommended adding two corporals so there are four sergeants, six corporals, and 10 officers.

Bordley was also asking for two more corporals to be added in 2014.

From a logistics standpoint, Bordley said there's also a need for more corporals as there is only one of four corporals active at the present time. Because of this, Bordley said the department's young officers at times have to make decisions they shouldn't have to make.

"Having two more corporals will bring leadership back to the field," Bordley said.

Promoting two officers to corporals would cost the department roughly $14,000, which Bordley said he will find in the budget.

When asked about how officers would be promoted, Bordley said like other police departments in the state, the officers will be tested.

Councilman Jeff Flairty said he would feel more comfortable adding two ranks for 2013 but waiting to see if the additions make a difference before adding two more positions in 2014.

Councilwoman Joanne Masten asked if the corporals would be out working in the town and not in an office; Bordley said yes.

Mayor Pat Stombaugh voiced her concern with succession planning.

"When you buy a new piece of equipment, it's a one-time expense you don't have to pay the next year," she said. "Every time you add a new position, you're adding to the budget every year for years going forward."

As the discussion continued, Councilman Anthony DeFeo said decisions shouldn't always be about the financing and he doesn't want to see officers leave because there's little chance in moving up the ranks.

"I don't want people to come in, train and leave," DeFeo said. "I want them to stay here."

Council ultimately decided to pass the motion 6-1 for two corporal positions in 2013, but to wait on making a decision for 2014. Councilwoman Valerie White voted no.

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