WATERTOWN — Every so often, the city police department loses one of its young officers to the state police.
It’s happening again on Sunday.
An unidentified officer is leaving the city to become a state trooper after being on the job for almost a year to the day.
Officers often go through the city police academy, get their training and are on the job for a short time and then move on to the state police.
It’s something that’s been happening for years, and City Police Chief Charles P. “Chip” Donoghue said little can be done to prevent it.
City Councilman candidate Robert Schorr brought up the subject at Tuesday’s council meeting during a discussion about police staffing.
Chief Donoghue said the police department puts in the time and money into training officers and getting them on the road, but the prospects of a higher salary lure them away to the state troopers.
Sometimes, however, the police department also loses a young officer to the State University of New York to become a campus cop or to another municipality, he said.
“It’s a risk,” the police chief said.
City police start at an annual salary of $48,135, compared to state police who initially make $56,174 a year during training but then make $79,467 after a year on the job.
The situation has occurred a couple of times in recent years.
State police are currently trying to recruit a city police officer on the job for just about a year, City Police Detective Lt. Joseph R. Donoghue Sr. said Thursday.
“Can, if anything, be done, we should pursue it,” Mayor Joseph M. Butler said.
Chief Donoghue said he will look into whether a stipulation can be put into the union contract to keep city officers for a period of time.
The loss of the officer comes at a time when the 66-officer department is short-staffed already, with three positions vacant and a retirement pending in July.
To get through the shortage, the City Council on Tuesday agreed for “an over hire” of an additional officer.
The idea is to get a cadet through the 10 months of the academy, training and on the road before the retirement in July, Chief Donoghue said.
The over hire will cost the city $16,564. A cadet will start the city’s police academy in October.