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Fairland Police Department says it needs pensions for officers to keep city stable

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Posted at 9:14 PM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 22:20:59-04

FAIRLAND, Okla. - One Green Country Police Department said with only two full-time police officers, if it doesn't receive the help it needs, stability in the community will be in jeopardy. 

"I moved back here because I wanted to be closer to my family."

Tyler Johnson came to work on Thursday at 4 p.m. sharp like he always does. 

But in the town of Fairland Tyler is only one of two full-time police officers, the second is the chief. 

"It's hard. We have one full-time officer and I have nine part-time positions," said Fairland Police Chief Aaron Richardson. 

Tyler, the only officer that doesn't work anywhere else, takes the responsibility seriously, but it isn't easy. 

"I get no benefits whatsoever," he said. 

"We don't have any stability right now. We're always having a revolving door of officers," the chief said. 

David Sergeant is a part-time patrolman, but said he'd be full-time if there were benefits. 

He has a family, so working a full-time job with no benefits isn't an option. 

"I work two full-time jobs and a part-time job," he said. 

But Thursday could be the beginning of stability with a new proposal. 

"To offer all our full-time police officers a pension, which would be the first benefit that the city's ever offered for law enforcement here," the chief said. 

In a Facebook post the chief said said he'll be asking the city council to consider entering into the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System. 

"We believe our police department is an asset to our town and we'd like to keep them," said Mayor Pro Tempore Lisa Jewett. 

Both the city and officers would buy-in, and Richardson could hire two more full-time officers. 

Richardson said the city would pay 13 percent of the full-time officers' gross pay a year, which would be $10,800, and officers would pay at least 7 percent, so about $7,000 a year.

"It's going to bring people in and keep people instead of this being everybody's second job," Officer Johnson said.

UPDATE: Chief Richardson said the city council was receptive to the idea, but is interested in finding alternative ways to pay for it. 

So it's been tabled for now without a vote to leave time for more discussion.

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