YOUNGSTOWN - Police Chief Rod Foley is planning ahead.
After adding six officers late last year, the chief said he has tentative approval from Mayor Charles Sammarone to add even more.
The only thing holding up the process is approval of the department's budget by City Council, which by state law has to be approved by March 31.
The department's proposed budget is about $20 million for the year, with $15 million of that slated for personnel costs in the patrol division. Council is holding budget hearings with several departments and is expected to vote on the spending measure before the end of the month.
The department paid more than $582,000 in overtime in the patrol division last year and is looking to help pay for the cost of new hires by cutting down on overtime this year.
But Foley began interviewing candidates last week so he can be ready to bring on seven or eight new officers when he gets the go-ahead and have them trained so they can be on the street for the peak summer months.
By the numbers
$20 million - Police budget for 2012
$15 million - Amount slated for personnel in the patrol division
$582,000 - Amount patrol division paid in overtime in 2011
6 - Number of officers hired in November
7-8 - Number of officers department wants to hire this year
''I want to get them revved up for the summer time,'' Foley said.
Foley said one of his main goals as chief is to have more officers on the road to increase visibility and response times. In recent years the department has lost several officers due to retirement and has not replaced them because of budget concerns.
The city hired six officers in November, and they are just now finishing up their three-month period of training with another officer before being allowed to be on the road by themselves.
The department has budgeted for new officers this year, saying it is affordable because newer officers are brought on at a lower pay rate than previously because of change in the contract with the union that represents patrolmen and also because there are fewer ranking officers in the department.
Last year the city had 39 detective sergeants, but this year there are 29, which makes more money available to hire more officers because ranking officers have a higher pay rate.
Foley said he wants to keep the department's strength in the uniformed division at about 152 officers, which is about where they are now. But they also are anticipating at least seven retirements this year and three other officers also are eligible to retire.
''If we lose one, I want to hire one,'' he said.