HUNTINGTON — Five former officers with the Huntington Police Department will be back to work next month after being laid off in January because of the city’s projected $5 million budget deficit.
In addition to the five returning officers, which the department has already paid to have trained, HPD also will hire a new officer from the department’s current civil service hiring list.
This officer will enter the State Police Academy in late August while the five probationary officers will return to their posts starting July 3, according to a news release from the city.
In January, the police department laid off 17 employees — a temporary police officer and 10 probationary officers and six civilians
Bryan Chambers, the city’s communications director, said all 10 of the probationary officers were offered a chance to return to the HPD; however, five had already accepted positions elsewhere.
The layoffs stem from a nearly $5 million deficit due to rising insurance costs, pension plan payments and overspending in the police and fire departments. To close that gap, the fire department also had to lay off seven probationary firefighters who has just been hired hired during a ceremony at the end of November.
While the police department was able to shuffle funds around in its budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, to allow for the return of its officers, the Huntington Fire Department is banking on a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring back the seven that they lost.
If awarded, the SAFER grant would be in effect for three years and provide funds to hire back the seven laid-off firefighters.
The city is expected to be notified after July 1 if it received the grant.
Chambers said HPD currently has 92 officers, after experiencing the retirement and departure of several officers since January when the total force stood at 99.
For fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1, the police department is authorized in its budget to have 103 officers.
Chambers said the hiring of this sixth officer will deplete the Police Department’s civil service hiring list, which is good for up to three years or until the list is exhausted.
As a result, the Police Department is now accepting applications for a new hiring list.
Applications must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office, Room 16 at City Hall, before the start of this testing cycle, which will begin with a physical ability test at 9:30 a.m. July 29 at the Chris Cline Athletic Complex, 2263 3rd Ave. Applications also will be accepted on the morning of the physical ability test. Applications can be obtained in the City Clerk’s Office or online at www.hpdwv.com/recruit.
In addition to the physical ability test, applicants will undergo a written test; background, polygraph and physical examination; psychological testing; and an oral interview.
The Police Department offers a starting base salary of $36,228 with paid vacation, sick leave, health benefits and participation in the Municipal Police Officers and Firefighters Retirement System.
Additional information regarding the testing dates and locations can also be found at www.hpdwv.com/recruit.