Qualified residents of Rim Country don't have to leave town to be certified as a Peace Officer in the state of Arizona.
The Payson Police Department's part-time reserve academy is scheduled to start this summer and those who successfully complete the year-long program will be certified Peace Officers and qualified to be hired as full-time police officers in Payson or anywhere in the state.
"They stand an excellent chance of getting hired and having a great career in their hometown," Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said. "We know we are going to have job openings here. "No less than four (openings) by 2007, and depending on growth, we could have as many as six to eight openings.
"By doing our own reserve academy, we can train people who already live here and then we can hire them and we stand a better chance of keeping them here for the long term."
Currently, a prospective candidate without experience is sent to a police academy in the Valley at a substantial cost to the department and no guarantee they will become a Payson police officer.
"We think it's going to save us and the taxpayers a ton of money, because, as it is now, by the time we get them through the academy and sixteen weeks of field training, it's probably close to $30,000," Gartner said. This will be the third local academy in the department's history. In 2004, Gartner tried to get an academy going through Gila Community College, but the end cost to the participant was nearly $4,000.
"Cost was the biggest drawback," Gartner said. "This academy will only cost $500 per person."
Sgt. Rod Mamero, who has worked for the Payson Police Department since 1989, was selected to coordinate the local reserve academy. Tentatively, the program will begin on July 22 and will last one year, Mamero said. It will be held on two weeknights from about 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and all day Saturday. Mamero said holding a part-time academy allows participants to keep their day jobs while obtaining a valuable certification.
The department will hold two rounds of the selection process. Applications for the first round are due by March 17.
Graduates who choose to stay as reserve officers are required to work eight hours a month and may be asked to work some selected details during the year.
There will be an informational meeting about the reserve academy at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15 at the Payson Police Department.
Applications are available at the Payson Police Department and at Payson Town Hall at 303 North Beeline Highway, or can be downloaded at www.paysonpolice.com. For more information, call Sgt. Rod Mamero at (928) 474-5242, ext. 210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.