Anticipated turnover and increased public safety demands will require the Trumbull Police Department to expand its workforce, according to Chief Thomas Kiely.

Kiely has requested funding for three additional officers, to a total of 78, in his 2013-14 budget request. Though the department is currently authorized to have 75 officers, its manpower has rarely exceeded 72 in recent years, he said.

“The problem is that it takes about 18 months to fill a position, from the time we post an opening to run a test, hire and train someone,” Kiely said. “I can’t hire someone for a position that’s not funded, so we’re always behind and playing catch-up.”

In the last 15 months, five officers have joined the department, but that rate of hiring likely won’t keep up with the rate of officers retiring or leaving to pursue other opportunities, Kiely said.

“Our department is very experienced and we’ve been lucky to have very good retention, but that means that by the end of this year a third of the department will have maxed out their pensions and will be eligible to walk away at any time,” he said.

According to Deputy Chief Glenn Byrnes, 27 of the department’s 73 officers will have 30 years’ experience and be eligible for retirement by the end of 2013. The potential to lose such a large block of officers is a concern, Kiely said.

“We need to start building our bench and have guys ready to step in when officers start retiring,” Kiely said.

Aside from the potential for a wave of retirements, today’s police officers simply have more responsibilities and demands on their time than they did a generation ago, Kiely said. Those demands are only going to increase with greater emphasis being placed on school safety after the Newtown shootings last month.

“The leadership in town and the schools is committed to school safety,” Kiely said. “We’re doubling our training and we will be working on strategies to secure the schools in the event of an emergency, but the biggest thing is having the manpower available.”

For example, when Kiely began his career in the 1970s, Hawley Lane Mall was an outdoor shopping center consisting of Caldor and Waldbaum’s. Westfield mall was less than half its current size and there was no 16-screen movie theater, 325-room Marriott or Route 25 expressway. The department of that era had an authorized strength of 69 officers, compared to today’s 75, but the 1970s department had 11 civilian employees, compared to nine today. There also were about 30 auxiliary officers, part-timers who handled traffic control and other tasks. Such officers no longer exist.

“We had basically the same number of officers on the streets, but the town was a lot diffferent and the country was different,” Kiely said. “But Sandy Hook Elementary School is 14 miles from Town Hall. We’re working with the schools and tightening procedures, but in the worst-case scenario, the officers have to come, their equipment has to be up-to-date, they have to be effective, and there has to be enough of them.”one,” Kiely said. “I can’t hire someone for a position that’s not funded, so we’re always behind and playing catch-up.”

In the last 15 months, five officers have joined the department, but that rate of hiring likely won’t keep up with the rate of officers retiring or leaving to pursue other opportunities, Kiely said.

“Our department is very experienced and we’ve been lucky to have very good retention, but that means that by the end of this year a third of the department will have maxed out their pensions and will be eligible to walk away at any time,” he said.

According to Deputy Chief Glenn Byrnes, 27 of the department’s 73 officers will have 30 years’ experience and be eligible for retirement by the end of 2013. The potential to lose such a large block of officers is a concern, Kiely said.

“We need to start building our bench and have guys ready to step in when officers start retiring,” Kiely said.

Aside from the potential for a wave of retirements, today’s police officers simply have more responsibilities and demands on their time than they did a generation ago, Kiely said. Those demands are only going to increase with greater emphasis being placed on school safety after the Newtown shootings last month.

“The leadership in town and the schools is committed to school safety,” Kiely said. “We’re doubling our training and we will be working on strategies to secure the schools in the event of an emergency, but the biggest thing is having the manpower available.”

For example, when Kiely began his career in the 1970s, Hawley Lane Mall was an outdoor shopping center consisting of Caldor and Waldbaum’s. Westfield mall was less than half its current size and there was no 16-screen movie theater, 325-room Marriott or Route 25 expressway. The department of that era had an authorized strength of 69 officers, compared to today’s 75, but the 1970s department had 11 civilian employees, compared to nine today. There also were about 30 auxiliary officers, part-timers who handled traffic control and other tasks. Such officers no longer exist.

“We had basically the same number of officers on the streets, but the town was a lot diffferent and the country was different,” Kiely said. “But Sandy Hook Elementary School is 14 miles from Town Hall. We’re working with the schools and tightening procedures, but in the worst-case scenario, the officers have to come, their equipment has to be up-to-date, they have to be effective, and there has to be enough of them.”