Town seeks new officer

Thursday, March 22, 2007

CLOVERDALE -- Charlie Hallam hopes to have a full staff by April.

For the second time in two years, the Cloverdale Police Chief is seeking a new officer to fill the department.

Currently, the department is down to three officers. Typically, a full staff for the department is four.

Hallam said the department has been understaffed since the middle of December.

In December, the Cloverdale Town Council voted 5-0 to terminate officer Nick Eastham from the police force.

Council member Judy Whitaker told the BannerGraphic in December that the termination was recommended by the police department.

"I think the circumstances merit the action," Whitaker said following the council's action.

At the time, officials declined to specify why Eastham was terminated from the force.

Despite the vote to terminate the officer, Eastham was reinstated in January after appealing his case.

Eastham filed an appeal with the council and due to procedural errors regarding his termination, his appeal was granted via a 5-0 vote by the council. He was reinstated to full duty and paid all backdues, compensation time and benefits. However, Eastham resigned from his position Feb. 12.

Hallam had cited Indiana Code 36-8-3-4 as reasoning for the termination during the termination hearing of Eastham.

The code is for the discipline, demotion and dismissal for police officers and firefighters, along with hearings, appeals and administrative leave for those in the departments. According to the code, a member of the police or fire department may be disciplined by the safety board if he or she is guilty of "neglect of duty, violation of rules, neglect or disobedience of orders, incapacity and absence without leave," among other disciplinary infractions.

Since the department has been short-staffed, Hallam said officers from the Putnam County Sheriff's Dept. and the Indiana State Police helped Cloverdale with patrolling.

"We did alright," Hallam said. "But we went into some periods when we were pretty thin."

In addition to Hallam, the staff also includes Assistant Chief Tim Walker and Patrolman Nathan Clary.

Hallam said extra hours mounted on the officers during the holiday season and during the period and that he took the brunt of it.

Hallam said several applicants have expressed interest in the position and that the application deadline was today.

He said all applicants had to pass a physical agility test per Indiana State Police Academy exit standards. In addition, they would be required to take a series of written exams per academy standards.

On Tuesday, Hallam said he hoped to have an officer in place by April.

"When spring gets here, we definitely want to be fully staffed," he said. "But I believe everything is on schedule."

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