HINESBURG, Vt. - The Hinesburg police department has four part-time officers. Chief Frank Koss says the position is essential to his operation.
A part-time officer in Vermont has the same level of authority as a full-timer officer but part-timers don't have to go through the same amount of training.
A part-time officer can complete as little as 200 hours of training while a full-time officer completes nearly 1000 hours.
“If you have an expectation for someone to perform the job you should train them to the level they need to perform the job,” Executive Director of Vermont's Criminal Justice Training Council Rick Gauthier said.
The training council is setting the rules for a new law that will require part-time officers to have the same amount of training as full-timers.
If they don't get the training, part-timers would be downgraded to a level two officer.
“A level two will not do a municipal department any good unless you're going to have the state police back you up,” Koss said.
The levels are new to Vermont and a level two wouldn't be able to investigate serious crimes like a homicide or sexual assault.
“If somebody's getting hurt or whatever yeah a level one or level two can intercede but then that's where it stops,” Koss said.
Gauthier says on occasion a part-time officer's lack of training has shown.
“And subsequently had difficulty handling some of the calls that came to them,” Gauthier said.
But Koss says no problem exists and the current training for part-timers is enough.
“This isn't something that all of a sudden you're starting to read that part-time officers are just running amok,” Koss said.
What's still up for debate is how much more training current part-time officers will need.
The criminal training council will make its recommendation to the legislature in January. The law takes effect in July 2015.