The New Albany Police Department plans to hire a fourth sergeant, perhaps from outside the department.

The New Albany Police Department plans to hire a fourth sergeant, perhaps from outside the department.

New Albany City Council on Sept. 18 heard the first reading of an ordinance to exempt the city from Ohio Revised Code section 124.44, which states, "Vacancies in positions above the rank of patrol officer in a police department shall be filled by promotion from among persons holding positions in a rank lower than the position to be filled."

The police department currently employs 12 officers, three sergeants and Chief Mark Chaney.

"We hope to get internal candidates," said City Attorney Mitch Banchefsky, "but with the size of the department, we would like the ability to look outside and think that might be beneficial."

A second reading is expected Oct. 2, and City Council could approve the ordinance at that meeting.

Banchefsky said if City Council adopts the ordinance, the city would be exempt permanently from the state law. According to the legislation, "pursuant to the city charter and Ohio case law, the city of New Albany has the ability to waive and/or otherwise exempt itself from certain state law provisions, including Ohio Revised Code section 124.44."

"I would consider that definitely as an insult that could hurt morale," said Jason Pappas, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, which represents the department's 12 officers. The sergeants and the chief were not part of the city's recently negotiated contract agreement with the FOP.

Pappas said the city has officers qualified to be candidates for sergeant, and if the officers are deficient in some area, the city should address the deficiency.

"I could see a difference if they were hiring a chief or expanding, changing direction," Pappas said.

Chaney said he included money in the 2012 budget to hire one person for half a year. He said he was not sure at the time if he would need to hire an officer or a sergeant.

He said he decided the department needs a fourth sergeant to help fill holes in supervision, especially on weekends.

"This will give us more coverage," he said.

Chaney said it might be necessary to change the sergeants' schedules to four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days.

The starting salary range for a sergeant is $71,713 to $80,631, he said.