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State park police seek officer candidates

New York State Park Police Sgt. Mark Sanchez,

New York State Park Police Sgt. Mark Sanchez, right, and Officer Bridget Fhagen patrol the Jones Beach Boardwalk. (July 18, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

New York State Park Police are seeking about 40 officer candidates for a new class even though there is no start date for the academy because of budget restrictions.

The selection process will establish a pool of candidates for the future class, said Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 1 and an examination will take place Nov. 17, but the state still has not allocated the money for a new academy class, Keefe said.

New York has not held a state park police class since 2008 because of budget constraints. At the same time, the state has lost staff at parks and historical sites. Retirements and attrition lead to the loss of about 20 officers every year, Keefe said.

The agency has 207 officers statewide, down from 301 in 2008 -- a 31 percent drop. The decrease was worse on Long Island, where the number of officers dropped from 84 to 50 in that same period.

The lack of staff has led parks officials to cancel the traditional Fourth of July fireworks at Jones Beach for the past three years.

Park attendance, however, is climbing. The state announced last week that about 43.7 million people have visited historic sites and parks since Jan. 1 -- a 2.3-million increase in visits over 2011.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and at least 20 years old, according to the state Department of Civil Service. There will be medical, drug and psychological screening, an agility test and a background check. Those who pass spend six months at a residential police training school.

New officers will be paid $54,258, the civil service department said. New officers who work on Long Island will receive an additional $1,520 annual salary adjustment and supplemental location pay of $2,217. The application is on the civil service website.

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