BCPD sees changes in number of officers
Last week's resignations left the Baldwin Police Department with two less officers, but Police Chief Mike McKenna hopes to replace them in the near future.
Baldwin officers Suzanne Evinger and Chris McCaig both left the BCPD last week, leaving only five officers, including McKenna, in the department.
Evinger, a two-year officer with Baldwin, was originally hired as the school resource officer. McKenna said Evinger resigned when the SRO position was not renewed for this school year.
McCaig, who had been with the police department for about a year and a half, resigned, McKenna said, to return to school.
In the past year, the BCPD has seen the departure of three other officers -- Colleen Larson, Charles Woolsoncroft and Bill Dempsey -- as well as the former police chief, Steve Butell. Woolsoncroft was fired in October for discharging a firearm in downtown Baldwin. The other three resigned.
The four remaining officers in the department are Eric Garcia, Chuck Hensley, Tara Craig and Dick Anderson.
"We are still able to maintain an officer on duty 24 hours a day," McKenna said. "But we will rebuild the department so we can have two officers on duty at various times."
He said he plans to hire three additional officers within the next three to four weeks. Before they are hired, he said, the candidates will have to go through an interview process, a background check and a physical.
Hiring additional officers, he said, and providing adequate training for them, will take the police department in the right direction to providing proper law enforcement in Baldwin.
"We need officers who will be community oriented and spirited as well as being professional in carrying out their assigned duties. Public trust and integrity of our officers are two highly important elements we must have in the police department" he said. "We will be providing personnel training and the direction they need to be successful.
"When I came to Baldwin, I said I felt Baldwin was at the crossroads of what direction it was going to go in regards to the police department," he said. "I would like the opportunity to lay the foundation so people can look back in the years to come and say this is where Baldwin made the turn toward professional law enforcement."
But McKenna said changes in the police department won't happen overnight.
"I think we all have to remind ourselves, myself included, that you don't have to achieve these types of goals in a short period of time," he said. "These types of goals we're putting into place will be markers for years to come. To think you can do that in a day or two, or even a few months, is just not humanly possible."
But he said he believes Baldwin will have professional and credible police department, which the community deserves.
"If we build this structure correctly, there's no reason to believe it won't serve as a blueprint for professional law enforcement for this community," he said.