The New Albany Police Department once again needs a fourth sergeant, but police Chief Greg Jones left the door open to add a fifth at some point.

The department will try to replace Sgt. Curtis Baker in the first quarter of 2019, Jones said. Baker left the department in October to become deputy chief of the Reynoldsburg Division of Police.

After the new sergeant is hired, assignments for the four will be determined based on several factors, Jones said, including skills, abilities and seniority.

Also, depending on the 2019 budget, city leaders could hire a fifth sergeant to provide relief for the other sergeants during days off, he said.

The city already has sought applications for Baker's sergeant position, according to the city's website, Nine were received, and two are internal candidates, Jones said.

The 2018 annual pay range for the position is $89,381.93 to $99,073.94, depending upon experience, according to the city's website.

Baker had an annual salary of $95,843, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee. Including benefits, his annual total compensation was $144,554.

The department now has 22 sworn staff members, Jones said, and it is in the process of hiring a patrol officer.

If the officer needs to attend police academy, he or she might not be on patrol until late next year, Jones said.

If the person already attended academy, he or she could begin field training earlier and be ready for patrol much earlier, he said.

"A lot of it's dependent upon who we hire," he said.

After the decision almost six years ago to add a fourth sergeant – and more recent decisions to increase the roster  to "help maintain service levels as the community and the business park have grown," according to McAfee in 2016 – staffing turnover has left the department with three sergeants on several occasions.

The most recent gap was closed when Joel Strahler was promoted to sergeant June 18 to replace Jillyan Will, who had resigned Sept. 22, 2017. Baker, who had been a Hilliard Division of Police officer, and Will had been hired as sergeants at the same time in April 2017.

Kris Daniels and Garrett Fernander are New Albany's other sergeants.