Police force down 2 officers

JAFFREY — The Jaffrey Police Department hired a new full-time patrolman last month to fill one of two officer vacancies that have remained unfilled since January. But that hire has since coincided with the departure of another Jaffrey officer, who after serving more than three years in the town accepted a job with the New Ipswich police force.

As a result, the Jaffrey force — which when fully staffed employs 11 full-time officers and one part-time officer — remains down two full-time officers and is in the advanced stages of a hiring process to fill those positions, Police Chief Bill Oswalt said Thursday. The town’s prosecutor is a part-time officer, but works under his own budget line in the town’s operating budget, Oswalt noted.

Jeremy Leblanc, a 26-year-old New Hampshire resident, joined the force on June 1, after having served the Marlborough Police Department for approximately two years, according to Oswalt.

“Coming to Jaffrey was a move that he felt enhanced his professional career and one that would benefit him and his family,” Oswalt said of Leblanc’s decision to leave Marlborough for a similar position in Jaffrey. “He has already demonstrated a high aptitude for police work in the early stages of his field training.”

After completing his training, Oswalt said Leblanc will be a valuable asset to the force, which has lost four officers to police departments in other New Hampshire towns since October 2012. The most recent officer to leave Jaffrey was Officer Weston Vollheim, who served his last day Sunday.

According to Oswalt, Vollheim was hired by the New Ipswich Police Department, where former Jaffrey officer Scott Radford has worked since January.

In addition to Vollheim and Radford, Jaffrey lost officers Brandon Nicholopoulos and Nicholas Jowders in recent months. Nicholopoulos was sworn in as an officer at the Winchester Police Department in March, and Jowders left Jaffrey this spring for a full-time patrolman position at the Nashua Police Department, which he began April 1.

Opportunities for advancement and/or pay increases are factors that have contributed to officers’ decisions to leave Jaffrey, Oswalt said.

Due to the turnover in employment, the Jaffrey Police Department called upon former School Resource Officer Chris Anderson to return to his position as a full-time patrolman in late March, in order to help fill vacant shifts. Anderson had served as SRO for the Jaffrey-Rindge School District since July 2010, and was scheduled to continue that role through July 1. After a three year run, the school district decided to cut the SRO position from its 2013-14 budget, which voters in Jaffrey and Rindge approved in March.

Oswalt said last week that losing one officer is difficult enough, but losing four officers in less than a year really puts a strain on the department and requires adjustments in the amount of time spent on investigation, supervision and patrol. But by making those scheduling adjustments, he said the department has been able to limit increased overtime costs.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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