SOUTHWICK – On Tuesday, the Southwick Police Department will host a pinning ceremony for two reserve officers at 5:30 p.m. in the Southwick Town Hall.
After recently graduating from the reserve academy, Kristin Rechenberger and Michael Girard were hired on by the Southwick Police Department this fall as reserve officers.
At the ceremony on Tuesday evening, Chief of Police Kevin Bishop will be pinning Rechenberger and Girard in order to officially swear them in as reserve officers.
This is the first time that the Southwick Police Department will be holding a pinning ceremony for reserve officers and Chief Bishop is confident that by doing so will create a positive impact for the department moving forward.
“I really believe that it’s very important to show the respect for these young officers as they start their career and have a public pinning ceremony,” said Bishop. “By doing this pinning ceremony, it starts the standard of showing our commitment to them (the reserve officers).”
The two new reserve officers will bring the Southwick Police Department from six up to eight reserve officers. Part of Bishop’s plan for the future is to continue to build the reserve unit, which at one time featured 11 officers. Bishop added that he’s hoping to not only build up the reserve unit but create it as an opportunity to allow the reserve officers to grow.
“It’s a great benefit to have these officers trained,” said Bishop. “Hopefully they continue up through and hopefully be hired as full-time officers.”
On January 16, Bishop had a discussion with the Select Board and talked about the upcoming staffing changes within the department.
Bishop informed the Select Board that a full-time officer in his department is expected to be retiring in March 2020 as that officer will have reached the mandatory retirement age.
As a result, Bishop wants to make sure he isn’t down an officer and has a full staff. In years past, the department was down an officer due to a retirement and forced them to allow overtime for the other full-time officers.
In an effort to get ahead of the staffing change, Bishop is hoping to send another reserve officer on the department to a full-time police academy in June. From there, the officer will have 23 weeks to graduate and become a full-time officer in the department to fill the staff.