The New Albany Police Department has been expanding its ranks and should add a fourth sergeant soon, according to city officials.

The department is down to two candidates for sergeant, said Chief Greg Jones. He said he hopes to select someone in the next few weeks.

The final candidates are Marsha Hoctor and Joel Strahler, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

The hire would bring the number of sergeants from three back to four.

The department operated with three sergeants for several years until police officials announced in 2012 plans to add a fourth to help cover the expanding community. New Albany officially became a city in 2011; municipalities with more than 5,000 residents are considered cities, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Last May, Curtis Baker and Jillyan Will joined the sergeant ranks with Kris Daniels and Garrett Fernander. Ed Burton, a sergeant at the department since 1990, retired at the same time, and one spot had been open since Mark Anderson resigned at the beginning of 2016 after accusations of sexual affairs and harassment.

But Will, who received an $87,201 annual salary and total benefits worth about $42,500, resigned Sept. 22.

The new sergeant's salary could range from $89,382 to $99,074, McAfee said. That is comparable to what Baker, a former Hilliard police officer, received in 2017: $90,354 in annual salary and about $42,900 in total benefits.

The city received 12 internal and external applications for the sergeant position, Jones said. An internal candidate, if promoted to sergeant, would undergo five weeks of field training to be eligible to undertake sergeant responsibilities, and an external candidate would undergo 15 weeks of field training, he said.

With four sergeants on the force, three would oversee patrol on first, second and third shifts, McAfee said, and the fourth would oversee detectives, the school-resource officer and the DARE officer. The new sergeant likely would be one of the sergeants assigned to overseeing a patrol shift, he said.

The police department also recently added three officers to its ranks, for a total of 20 on the force, not including the sergeants and himself, Jones said.

Steven Persinger was hired in December, Oren Nauman was hired in January and Jacob Steinbrueck was brought on in recent weeks, McAfee said.

Nauman had attended Columbus' police academy and already is on patrol, Jones said. Persinger will be on patrol after graduating in July from the academy and then taking a 15-week field-training program, he said.

Steinbrueck will begin attending the police academy at the end of June and likely will not be on patrol until spring 2019, Jones said.

The starting salary for a new officer is $54,483.31, McAfee said.

Last year, the police department's total expenses were about $3.76 million, McAfee said. The projected expenses for 2018 are about $4.2 million, he said.

Sometimes the department doesn't use as many resources as it anticipates, Jones said.

This year, the proposed budget for the department is about $4.5 million.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah