MANCHESTER — The revolving door that is this town's police force is turning once again, as the police chief finds himself looking to replace the entire force.
And while Chief David Myers has been here for more than ayear -- longer than almost any chief in the last six years -- his two-member staff left two weeks ago for jobs in the Carroll County Sheriff's Department.
"I guess you'd say I'm working a little harder these days," the chief said yesterday, declining to give details of his schedule.
Town officials began a search for two officers about a week ago. As of yesterday afternoon, five people had applied for the job.
"We'd really like to get our force back up as soon as possible," said David Warner, the town's projects administrator. "But while the chief is theentire show, we're not publishing his hours."
Officers Michael Bunn and Francis Reda left January 29 to accept positions with the sheriff.
Reda was hired about four months ago, and Bunn had been on the force about four years.
Manchester, like most small municipal forces, has an almost constant turnover of officers and chiefs. In the last six years, the town has had five police chiefs.
Myers, who himself was not completely certified with the state's Police Training Commission when he was hired, made a commitment to stay with the forcelonger than his predecessors.
One of the reasons for the turnover, Warner said, is the relatively low pay -- about $20,000 -- the townoffers beginning officers.
The jobs will offer benefits similar to those in other towns, including participation in the state's retirement system.
By comparison, beginning state police troopers are paid nearly $25,000, and sheriff's deputies start at about $21,500.
That $20,000 is a slight improvement over the $19,000 salary offered previously. Myers' salary is $23,500 a year.
One pool of applicants could be the recent graduating class from the state police trainingacademy. That class was left jobless last year when Gov. William Donald Schaefer froze hiring of state police.
One person from that class has applied for one of the Manchester posts.
While Warner and Myers would welcome the state police cadets, both worry about being able to keep officers on the force.
"We really want to get two officers who want to establish themselves in Manchester, who would be there for a good long time on the force," Warner said.
"But this is probably true of most small forces. It's just tough to match the salary and benefits of the other agencies."
The town will accept applicants for at least another week, and Warner said interviews should be finished by Feb. 14.
He and Myers said they want to have the officers working by the end of the month.