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Fresh faces at MPD

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INTRODUCTIONS: Alex Huskey shakes hands with newly sworn in officer Billy Cole at the Board of Works meeting Monday morning as Chief Angela Haley (left) and board members Linda Wilk and Joselyn Whitticker look on. Cole was one of four Marion Police Department officers sworn in at the meeting.
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NEW BLOOD: Marion Police Chief Angela Haley swears in Officer Richard Sisson Monday morning. Sisson, one of four new officers sworn in, worked as a dispatcher for MPD before joining the force.

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion Police Department swore in four new officers and promoted three other officers to higher ranks Monday morning.

With up to six officers retiring at the beginning of 2019, Marion Police Chief Angela Haley is looking to replace outgoing officers with new recruits.

“You're going to see a lot of change over the next year in the Marion Police Department,” Haley said.

The hires sworn in Monday won't make up the difference when the retirees leave, but Haley said she's in the process of hiring several more officers right now.

She's looking to add a total of nine officers over the next year to replace the retirees and set the department up for future retirements in 2020.

The time between hiring a new officer and that officer being fully trained and able to work independently is typically about a year, according to the chief, so the department has to plan for staffing changes far in advance to be able to keep a full force.

Three of the four officers sworn in Monday have some experience in law enforcement already.

Richard Sisson was an emergency responder with Grant County EMS before joining MPD a few years ago as a 911 dispatcher.

“My goal going into dispatch was to be a patrol officer, but I wasn't 21 yet,” Sisson said.

Sisson's experience as a dispatcher means he's already familiar with the other officers in the department and the streets of Marion, knowledge that's given him a leg up in getting started as an officer.

“Richie will be patrolling by the end of the month,” Haley said.

Joe Biddle was also a dispatcher with MPD before joining the force this year.

Biddle grew up in Wells County but has always had ties to Marion, graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in criminal justice. He's now finishing up a master of divinity at IWU which will help him continue his part-time job as a chaplain in the Indiana National Guard.

Billy Cole, also sworn in Monday, came to MPD from the Fairmount Police Department. Cole grew up in Marion and served in the Marine Corps for five years. He's also an IWU graduate with a degree in criminal justice.

“It's a loss for Fairmount, but it's a big win for us because he's been through the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy already,” Haley said.

Not having to go through the police academy cuts at least 15 weeks from Cole's training time, according to Haley, meaning he can hit the street earlier than a typical hire.

The fourth new hire, Blake Coburn, is new to law enforcement but knows the community well, having lived in Marion 28 years.

Coburn graduated from Marion High School in 2008 and worked at the Walmart Distribution Center before joining MPD.

Coburn said he's been with Marion “through the ups and downs” and he changed careers to “give back” to the community he grew up in.

Four MPD officers were also promoted Monday morning. Larry Shaw became captain of day shift, and Darrell Jackson, Jeffrey Wells and Benjamin Caudell were all promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Joselyn Whitticker, vice president of the Board of Works and Public Safety, praised the new recruits for “stepping into the shoes” of the retiring officers, and Linda Wilk, president of the board, said she's been impressed with MPD's working relationship with Hands of Hope, a shelter for domestic violence that Wilk runs.

Wilk thanked the officers for “putting (themselves) out there” and encouraged the officers to continue working to end domestic violence.