WINDBER – Windber Borough Council has been working for nearly a year to stop what members have described as the police department’s revolving door, which has sent officers to new jobs almost as fast as they arrive.

Now, they are setting their sights on the uniforms those officers fill.

Council discussed the idea of establishing a probationary period for future police hires that would require new officers to repay some or all uniform costs if they leave the force before a yet-to-be-decided term expires, Borough Manager Fred Oliveros said.

“We’ve been burned quite a few times where we hire someone, outfit them and then they move on to other jobs,” he said. “We can’t blame them for moving on (for better salaries), but we’re left eating the cost.”

Custom-fit bulletproof vests, for example, often cost $600, Oliveros said.

“Then there’s the pants, shirts, jackets and holster. It adds up,” he said, noting the total can be several thousand dollars.

Council first discussed the idea during Tuesday’s meeting and will have to approach the department’s police union for any changes to happen.

If the union is agreeable, a memorandum to the current contract would have to be drafted detailing the probationary period guidelines, Oliveros said.

Council voted this week to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of police officer Ryan Chiodo, who was hired by the Johnstown force this month, Windber Mayor Scott Penrod said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst.

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