By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
---- — Two recently graduated officers have joined the patrol ranks of the Oneonta Police Department, the chief said Wednesday.
Mark Stanard, 31, and Ryan Pondolfino, 24, graduated from the Broome County Law Enforcement Academy during a ceremony at the Riverwalk Hotel in Binghamton, a media release from the Oneonta Police Department said.
Chief Dennis Nayor said with the two additional police officers the department is two away from its authorized staff of 28 sworn members.
Starting pay in 2012 for police is $36,500, which increases $1,000 after officers receive a graduation certificate, Lt. Douglas Brenner said.
Stanard and Pondolfino are intelligent, confident but not arrogant, are of good character and have personal attributes to be excellent additions to the police department, Nayor said. The department was authorized to hire five officers and was highly selective in choosing three candidates, he said, and the third candidate decided not to pursue police work soon after starting at the academy.
Of 90 applicants who sat last year for a Civil Service exam to become an Oneonta police officer, 83 passed, city personnel director Kathy Wolverton said Thursday. Another test will be given Nov. 17, and 82 have signed up for results to be sent to Oneonta, she said.
In recent years, the city and its police department have wrangled with a police brutality case and the resignation of three officers in the wake of a scandal involving alleged on-duty drinking and sexual activities.
Nayor, who was sworn in as police chief six months ago, said the department already is on the path to regaining trust of the community, as shown by compliments and thanks officers and the department have received from residents.
Nayor said he would rather the department be short-staffed than hire someone who is less than highly qualified. From civilian to sworn ranks, staff must represent the department ``in the best way possible,’’ he said.
Pondolfino and Stanard live in the city of Oneonta, earned bachelor’s degrees from the State University College at Oneonta and have military experience.
Of 23 recruits who started the seven-month academy training, 14 graduated, the OPD release said. Officers received 960 hours of law enforcement training and instruction in topics such as firearms, fitness, emergency vehicle operation, first responder, legal studies, officer survival and many others.
Nayor, Brenner and Oneonta city manager Michael Long attended the graduation ceremony. Stanard was recognized as the most proficient in firearms qualifications and for his accomplishments, which included top qualifying scores and top academic scores.
Pondolfino earned recognition for top honors in physical fitness; he set a new police academy record in pushups by completing 312 pushups consecutively.