While many of us are saying, 'Thank God it's Friday,' one group in Utica is grateful because today means they're one step closer to punching back in at their jobs. Officers Brett Humphreys, Anne Marie Brelinsky and Robert Harnett have been officially re-hired by the Utica Police Department. Their jobs were eliminated due to budget cuts earlier this year. Our Sarah Blazonis has more from the swearing-in ceremony.
UTICA, N.Y. -- Ask Brett Humphreys when he first joined the Utica Police and you'll get a pretty exact answer.
"Originally I joined February 26, 2009," he said at City Hall Friday.
That date marked the achievement of a lifelong dream for the 26-year-old.
"Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a police officer," said Officer Humphreys. "Family members that were in law enforcement, at an early age, I always looked up to them."
April 1, 2012 was a darker day for Humphreys and 16 of his fellow officers. Budget cuts forced the department to lay them off and demote 23 others.
A gift of $100,000 from Oneida County and its District Attorney's Office meant nine officers could be promoted to their old ranks Friday and Humphreys and two fellow officers could put on their uniforms for the first time in three months.
"Had to dust it off a little bit, but yeah, it was good. I was happy," said Humphreys.
Chief Mark Williams says call volume at the department is up by 2,000 from the same time last year and he says having those extra officers back patrolling their beats will go a long way towards helping curb the spike in property crime in the city, particularly burglaries.
"We're drowning in work. What it does is now we have a better span of control and we can delegate and more importantly, plan for the long term ventures we'll do with this agency," said Chief Williams.
The chief says the extra funds will allow two officers to be reassigned to the county's Drug Task Force. The department can also fully pay for the officer assigned to the Child Advocacy Office and may be able to reconvene its burglary unit.
As for Officer Humphreys, he has big weekend plans. Saturday's his first day back on the job.
The Utica Fire Department also joined in on Friday's ceremony. Three of its members were also promoted.