TOWN OF BELOIT—With additional funding secured for 2021, the Town of Beloit Police Department is looking to add to its ranks and resolve staffing and overtime issues.

During a virtual meeting Monday, the town’s Board of Supervisors approved the 2021 budget and voted to approve the hiring of a new patrol officer.

“I feel the department is moving in the right direction for staffing levels and appreciate the support of the board,” Town of Beloit Police Chief Ron Northrop said. “At this point I have no concerns, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity of bringing good qualified officers on our team to serve our community.”

With the board’s approval, Northrop said the police department plans to move forward on hiring Ashley Lepak as a full-time patrol officer by Jan. 1.

The department also has funds allocated to hire a second additional officer. The 2021 town budget includes around $130,000 to cover salary and benefits for both new patrol officer positions. The town police department has seven officers currently.

At the Nov. 2 board meeting, Northrop told the town board that one full-time patrol officer currently serving in the department has received a conditional job offer elsewhere. If that officer accepts the offer, Northrop said the department would plan to fill that position.

An administrative assistant in the department is retiring on Dec. 31, Northrop added.

At the Sept. 21 town board meeting, police command staff presented the results of a staffing study and shared their concerns about officers’ and citizens’ safety if additional officers were not hired.

The staffing study included findings that on roughly one-third of all calls in the township, patrol officers responded alone. The command staff had said this model was not sustainable, citing overtime and safety concerns.