The New Albany Police Department continues to add officers to its force.

The staffing increases are the result of replacing officers lost through retirement or promotion, as well as department growth, said police Chief Greg Jones.

In the past two decades, New Albany steadily has added residents, becoming a city in 2011 after its population surpassed 5,000, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The current estimated population is 10,889, according to the bureau's 2018 estimates.

In addition, companies have flocked to the New Albany International Business Park during that time.

The police department's sworn staff includes four sergeants, 19 officers and Jones, for a total of 24, Jones said.

The department currently is authorized to have a roster of 21 officers, five sergeants and a chief, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee.

About a year ago, the roster totaled 22, and roughly two years ago, it was 21, according to previous ThisWeek stories.

Of the 19 officers on the roster, one, Jacob Ferrebee, is training at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Training Academy and should be ready for patrol by early next year, Jones said.

Three other officers, Michael Cohrs, Chase Blankenship and Codey Ratliff, already have completed academy classes and are in field training for 14 weeks, he said. Those officers should be on patrol in October or November, he said.

Jones said he plans to take the number of officers to either 20 or 21, depending on whether an employee of the police department decides to retire or stay on.

Cohrs, Blankenship and Ratliff were recognized along with new officers Caleb Conn and Jake Steinbrueck at a swearing-in ceremony at a Sept. 17 New Albany City Council meeting.

The ceremony was for the officers' families, and the officers were hired before their police academy classes, McAfee said. The department hired Steinbrueck in June 2018 and then Conn In November, Cohrs in December and Ratliff and Blankenship in January, he said.

The five new officers were hired at a step 1 salary level of $57,799.98, said McAfee, for a total annual salary cost of $289,000.

Council members also recognized newly promoted Sgt. Terry Nemeth, the department's fourth officer at that rank. Nemeth's salary as sergeant is $91,839; he previously made $87,550, according to McAfee.

Nemeth replaces Sgt. Curtis Baker, who left the department in October 2018 to become deputy chief of the Reynoldsburg Division of Police.

Nemeth has worked at the NAPD since 2014 and was a detective prior to his promotion, Jones said.

Jones said Nemeth was one of nine candidates who applied for the job.

Nemeth was the best candidate, Jones said, because of his sound judgment and demonstration of an above-average knowledge of law enforcement.

Nemeth is an instructor in electroshock devices and firearms, Jones said, and he trusts him to pass on his knowledge and judgment to young officers.

Nemeth said he is "looking forward to serving in this new position and the opportunity to mentor young officers."

The department just ended an application process for internal and external candidates for a fifth sergeant, Jones said. The hope is to have a fifth sergeant in place by early next year, he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah