MANCHESTER — Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. seemed puzzled by the recent departure of two-thirds of his town's police force.
It wasn't that Officers Michael Bunn and Francis Reda left the force. Rather, it was where they ended up finding new jobs.
Bunn, a four-year veteran, and Reda, on the job about four months, are the two newest road deputies for the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, a department that, like all other county agencies, has been under a 15-month hiring freeze.
"I thought they were supposed tohave a hiring freeze over there," Warehime said during Tuesday night's Town Council meeting. "The sheriff must be shuffling some things around."
Shuffling things around is exactly what Sheriff John H. Brown did. After pulling two of his 14 road deputies to join the 35-officer complement at the detention center, Brown was left with a two-person vacancy.
"I haven't asked for anything additional," Brown said. " After we moved some people around, we had two vacancies, and these two are just replacements."
The move is not a violation of the hiring freeze, which has thawed somewhat in recent months.
When the commissioners imposed the hiring ban in November 1990, they made itclear they were not going to hire any new people -- or even many replacements. When the current fiscal year began in July, they allowed departments to fill some vacant positions, but maintained the ban on new hires.
"They may be hiring, but they're requesting nothing new," Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy said. "Our policy is to allow for that. Some people, since the restructuring, have been shuffled around, and we've had to adjust and hire for that."
County Budget Director Steven D. Powell said that the freeze is lifted on a "hire-by-hire basis."
The two Manchester officers hired by the sheriff in January will earn $21,600 a year. The two had applications on file with the department for several months, Brown said, and they are both certified and trained.
"We're operating on a low level as it is now," Brown said. "But there's a factor in all of this, and it's called common sense. That's all I'm trying to do."
Overall, Brown's department -- which includes sheriff's services and the detention center -- has a budget of nearly $2.4 million, and it is expected to increase only slightly for the fiscal year beginning in July.
The department is not replacing all of its vacancies, such as that left by former detention center Warden John E. Hinton.
Hinton contended that he was asked to resign from the $37,000-a-year post because money-saving scheduling changes he made were unpopular with guards. Brown has declined to discuss the situation in detail.
The vacant post wasamong the casualties in the detention center's most recent round of budget cuts. Brown trimmed about $100,000 from the center's budget for the current fiscal year.
"I don't like doing it, but we've got to do what we can," Brown said. "The money is just not there."
To preserve more money, the commissioners are expected to announce yet another delay in the renovation and expansion of the detention center. That project -- originally set to be completed sometime this year -- will probably not be started before July 1993, Lippy said.