Jan. 22--PEORIA -- The city will not wait until spring to hire new police officers, though not all 18 positions will be immediately filled.
Seven new officers who already have gone through the Police Training Institute will be hired early next month, according to Assistant Police Chief Jerry Mitchell.
"It looks like seven have been cleared," Mitchell said. "These seven have had prior service, so they don't need to go through PTI."
The new officers will be sworn in during a ceremony Feb. 11 and immediately begin the field training program. Mitchell said the new hires generally could be on their own in patrol positions by the first part of June.
The salaries of six of the new officers will be partially covered by a federal grant awarded to the city last year. The money from the U.S. Department of Justice hiring program requires contributions toward the salaries from the city for the first three years of employment and a commitment by the city to fully fund the officers' salaries for a fourth year.
When the grant was awarded in September, city officials announced the six new hires would be part of a hiring wave that would fill 17 vacant positions. The total number of positions to be filled now is 18 because of a retirement.
Mitchell said is still looking to fill the remaining 11 positions. The next PTI is scheduled for April.
"We look to get them in as we can and as they get approved by the city," Mitchell said.
Peoria Police Benevolent Association President Eric Ellis praised the city for making the immediate hires after delaying the filling of the positions at the start of the year. The union had said the delay could threaten officers' safety and lead to a diminished level of city services.
"We are very pleased with news of the new hires and believe it is a step in the right direction and hope it continues," Ellis said. "We also appreciate having a receptive mayor, city council and city manager."
Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.
(c)2014 Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Peoria to hire seven new police officers early next month
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