Questions raised over qualifications, hasty hiring of officer

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Sharon officials expressed concern at Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting about the qualifications of a police officer that was proposed for hire.
On Friday, this reporter was told by sources that a civilian was out patrolling the City of Sharon. The same day, an agenda was sent out by City of Sharon leadership that at their regularly-scheduled meeting, a former part-time officer, Justin Harris, would be considered for hiring.

When questioned during Monday’s meeting if Harris was already hired and if he was patrolling the city, Stricklin said, “He is helping us right now and tonight we are going to formally hire him to work at least 25 hours a week, subject to the boards’ approval.” Stricklin said that Harris had been “helping us, and he’s been doing errands for us.” Stricklin said he had been carrying vehicles to different places to get serviced and checked into.

Video footage shows Harris getting into and out of police vehicles last week, along with a city vehicle parked at his residence on Sunday.
All video footage was sent to the P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission).

When asked if Harris had completed his training for P.O.S.T, Stricklin said he had not but that “he has in-service training and he has worked here before under several chiefs and it’s my understanding that he can work under us under 25 hours per week if he gets his in-service training by the county, which he has in the past.”
According to P.O.S.T. regulations, an individual not officially-hired, certified or who hasn’t completed their training hours, is not allowed to legally operate a police department vehicle, or drive solo in a police vehicle.

P.O.S.T. regulations state that an uncertified officer must complete 128 hours of in-service training, which is required after a break in service. Harris has not worked as an officer with the City of Sharon since December 2022. According to P.O.S.T., failure to comply with this and knowledge by any person, would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and upon conviction “shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000.”

Stricklin did not respond when asked why the city would hire an officer who failed to pass the test or meet the requirements set forth by P.O.S.T. While the City’s attorney, Jeff Washburn, was present at the regularly-scheduled board meeting Monday night, he offered no comment throughout the meeting on any of the issues raised and has not responded for comment since. Washburn was not present at last week’s special-called meeting due to health reasons.

Stricklin told board members “as far as applications for another Chief and police officers, until this budget is fixed, we don’t know what we have to even offer, so we are going to wait before we do any applications.”

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