It has been a busy year for the Marietta Police Department as longtime officers racked up overtime hours while the department worked to fill positions left vacant by retirements and leaving officers.
This week the department rounded out its roster. Recent Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy (OSHPA) graduates Jake Dennison, 24, and Jeremy Pinkerton, 29, joined October hire Michael Bonnette, 27, as field officers in training, making the department's patrolman force the largest it has been in years, said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite.
"A year ago we were down five (patrolmen) and this whole summer has been a lot of overtime just to keep a bare minimum patrol in place," he said.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Recent Marietta Police Department hires Michael Bonnette, left, and Jake Dennison, right, chat outside department headquarters Thursday.
Dennison and Pinkerton, both Parkersburg residents, were hired over the summer and started work this week. Both have college degrees related to law enforcement and previously worked or interned with a law enforcement agency in West Virginia but were required to complete an Ohio police officer certification course before beginning training with the department.
They graduated the OSHPA Dec. 20 and began work Sunday and Monday, respectively.
So far, training has been quiet compared to the grueling academy, said Dennison.
3 new recruits
Michael Bonnette-Hired and started in October. Degrees in Law Enforcement and Corrections from Washington State Community College. Previously worked as commissioned officer with Coolville Police Department.
Jake Dennison-Hired in July and started Sunday. Degree in Criminal Justice from Marshall University. Interned with the Cabell County Sheriff's Office (W.Va).
Jeremy Pinkerton-Hired in August and started Monday. Degree in Justice Studies from Kent State University. Worked as an officer with the Parkersburg Police Department for five years.
"It's only my third day, so there haven't been that many calls," he said.
The 18-week paramilitary academy consisted of multiple daily physical training sessions, academic classes, shooting practice and other training, said Dennison.
The training was similar to the certification course for West Virginia officers, said Pinkerton, who worked for five years as an officer with the Parkersburg Police Department.
"They are very similar academies...It's more or less trying to get familiar with the Ohio Revised Code. Ohio is a lot more in-depth with its code," he said.
Bonnette, who has associates degrees in Law Enforcement and Corrections from Washington State Community College, had already graduated the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy when he was hired in October and was able to start training immediately.
With six weeks under his belt, Bonnette has already experienced a variety of calls, including chasing down a shoplifter and searching for a burglary suspect who broke into a Harmar home last week.
"I went and canvased the neighborhood, asked the neighbors if they saw anyone matching the description," he said.
Bonnette, Dennison and Pinkerton bring the department's total hires for the year to five. Mike Harlow, 22, and Errol Kramer, 36, started training as patrolmen in May and July.
All told, the five men fill three vacancies left by longtime officers leaving the department and two slots made available by additional funding, said Waite.
Patrolman Ed Wright retired in January; Patrolman Ralph Newell retired in August; and Detective Troy Hawkins left the department in April to take a job with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
In addition to adding much-needed manpower to the department, the new hires will also bring the average age of the department down by several years, said Waite.
"We're finally getting some young blood back in the department. I think the average age before these new hires was 45," he said.
Though having a well-seasoned staff shows the department has had good retention over the years, the addition of some young hires is good for the future of the department, he said. .