If you ask any police chief from any municipality across the nation if their police department is having increased difficulty recruiting and retaining police officers, they will likely echo the same emphatic response of Marion Police Chief John Garcia: “Oh yeah.”
The Marion Board of Selectmen held a special meeting on January 3 to allow Chief Garcia to secure himself a new student police officer while he had the chance.
The board approved Garcia’s request to appoint the department’s current part-time special officer, Peter Bourgault, as a full-time student officer to fill the patrol officer position left vacant by Scott Cowan, who resigned to join the Wareham Police Department.
Bourgault has been a special officer with the Marion Police Department since November 2018 and previously held a position in the Marion Harbormaster Department.
According to Garcia, Bourgault had to immediately schedule the pre-police academy fitness test the day after Christmas before he could be appointed in time for the January 6 start date for the academy. And with a 20-percent fitness test fail rate, they had to wait until after the exam to request the appointment.
“Pete had one shot at it,” said Garcia. If Cowan failed the test, it would have been a “no-go” for the academy, said Garcia.
Garcia said hiring student officers is a common practice for police departments, especially when they’ve already served as a part-time officer in the department.
“It’s nice when we promote from within because the person has worked with us and we know… who we’re getting,” Garcia said. “It’s going to help out a lot.”
Although Garcia is pleased to have filled the vacancy, he will again be looking to fill another position now that Officer Anthony DiCarlo resigned last Friday to start the police academy for the State Police.
“We’re trying something new,” said Garcia. Looking to cast his net more widely, Garcia is advertising the position on Policeapp.com in addition to the traditional posting of the position. “We’ve already seen… our applications double already.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen was held on January 7 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry