Retirements force Boston police to make
By Daniel Barbarisi, Globe Correspondent
(BOSTON) -- Worried by the impending retirement of hundreds of officers, the Boston Police Department is making an all-out push to recruit new ones, beginning Dec. 3 with the department's first-ever open house.
The department estimates that 250 potential officers pledged to take the April entrance exam. But even when that number is added to the 300 applicants already signed up, the department is falling far short of its goal of 2,500 to 4,000 recruits by Jan. 26.
To make up that shortfall, six officers have been reassigned as full-time recruiters, and the department is mounting an advertising blitz. Despite its efforts, however, the department may still have trouble replacing the several hundred of the 2,180 Boston police officers who will be eligible for retirement next year,
"An entire generation is gone, most of the guys who trained me are gone," said Officer Lawrence Welch, one of the six reassigned as a recruiter. "But we've sparked a lot of interest. Prospects are very, very good."
The department offers a starting salary of $35,000, and is trying to lure more educated applicants by promising incentives to those with college degrees, such as higher pay, and bigger pensions.
Most of the retirees enlisted in the late 1960s, when the department expanded dramatically, and many are high-ranking members.
While this may be troubling for the department, it's great news for police hopefuls such as 25-year-old Tim Hogan of South Boston. "With this turnover rate, it seems like there'll probably be quick promotions," he said.
Hogan, who hopes to work in a K-9 unit, was one of those attracted by the department's recruiting campaign. "The idea of a job in such a high profession is great, especially being able to help the community," he said. "And, it's also a decent living."
Others came down for more traditional reasons. Mike Scaranari, 25, of Plymouth, came at the urging of his mother - a lieutenant in the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department.
"She's the one who made sure I knew it was coming up. But also, up here, it seems like there's a lot of excitement, " Scaranari said.
The department says it will probably accept a higher portion of applicants than usual to fill the many empty slots, but that has not stopped some applicants from getting pre-exam jitters.
"I'm not too nervous about it. Well, OK, I'm kinda nervous," said 28-year old Charletha Carter, a Boston carpenter looking for a "different face of life."
"Nobody in my family has done anything like this. It's just little old me. Hopefully."
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