2017-07-20 / News

Mello hires per-diem patrolman

While the short-staffed police force awaits three recruits, the town is tapping retired officers to patrol the island.

According to Police Chief Ed Mello, a lack of interest in the profession has hampered the department and led to the hiring of Phillip Williams. A retired lieutenant from Westerly, Mello’s former department, Williams worked in that town from 1990-2015.

Back under Mello’s supervision, Williams will make $35 per hour as a Jamestown patrolman with no benefits or overtime. This is the first per-diem officer hired by Mello.

“We were having difficulty filling shifts,” Mello said. “Right now he’s filling our need. He has all of the authority of a regular police officer.”

Under this program, Williams, 49, is required to complete all department training in order to maintain his certification as a sworn police officer. He does not, however, have permanent hours. When a shift is available, the watch commander will call Williams to see if he’s available. Although it’s only been a few weeks, Mello said Williams has responded favorably.

“It takes a special individual,” Mello said.

Before searching out of town, Mello reached out to retired Jamestown police officers. Some lacked interest while others were no longer certified. “It’s almost impossible to gain back,” Mello said.

Without counting Williams, Jamestown currently has 11 sworn officers, but its ideal roster is 14 members. Andrew Dutra, Ryan Bourque and Michael Carrasquillo joined the force from the academy in the summer of 2015, but all three are no longer in town. Bourque was killed by a drunken driver a year later while returning home from work, Dutra resigned and Carrasquillo accepted a job closer to home.

The three new recruits at the academy started Monday and will graduate after 22 weeks. That will be followed by 14 weeks of local training before they are sworn-in by Mello. They become full officers after a year of probation on the force.

— Tim Riel

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