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Easthampton Police Department gets $100,000 to pay incentives, vacation time

The majority of the funds, $65,000, will pay an educational incentive to police officers based on advanced degrees they hold. But Police Chief Bruce W. McMahon said he only needs additional funding because a payroll change requires the department to pay the incentive three times in the current fiscal year, as opposed to the usual two.

He said he asked for additional funding to cover the cost when Mayor Michael A. Tautznik was writing the 2013 fiscal year budget, but the department was underfunded, requiring him to return this month with the request for $65,000.

The department needs the remaining $35,000 the City Council approved because of turnover. Of that, $30,000 will go to pay vacation time for Officer Richard Facteau and Detective Steven Burgielewicz, both of whom suffered knee injuries that McMahon said prevents them from returning to work.

Also, $5,000 will go to buy uniforms for two recent hires, officers Luis Rivera and Kyle Gribi, and a new officer McMahon hopes to hire when Burgielewicz retires in May or June.

McMahon, who is himself recovering from an off-duty knee injury and a pulmonary embolism, said officer injuries suffered in the line of duty really cost the city. “It’s normal to have turnover in a department, but all of ours has been due to injuries,” he said. “It’s always tough because they’re leaving well before their time.”

In the current fiscal year, officers out due to injury include Facteau, Burgielewicz and former officer Anthony Covalli, who injured his leg in 2009. In the last two fiscal years, McMahon asked the city for $200,000 in additional funding to pay overtime for officers filling in for injured officers.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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