When Wayland in January he left behind a job vacancy that will likely remain vacant for several more months – or even until next year.
The youth officer position is one that can only be filled by a current officer who is promoted into the position, but the is already short two patrol officers so promoting someone else from off the street and into the youth officer position is out of the question for now.
explained that Wayland participates in the Massachusetts Civil Service system, which means there is a lengthy state-controlled process for bringing new officers onto the Wayland police force.
In other words, the chief can’t simply post notice of a job opening and begin interviewing officers who e-mail him their resumes.
“When we have an opening, it takes a year to get someone back on the street,” Irving explained. “Civil Service is a system.”
That system requires Irving to notify the Massachusetts Human Resources Division that he has a vacancy (or vacancies) on his police force. At that point, Human Resources will provide him with a short list of potential employees who have recently passed the Police Officer Civil Service Exam. That list, however, is by no means exhaustive.
“If I tell them we have three vacancies,” Irving explained, “they will probably only send me five or so names.”
The names are taken from the top of a rolling list of individuals who have taken and scored well on the Civil Service exam. Preference is given to veterans, children of fallen officers, residents of particular towns, etc., Irving explained.
If a suitable candidate isn’t found among those five or so names – they don’t have the skill set or work style the police force is seeking – Irving has to wait until that round of exam takers has circulated through the system before requesting more names.
The exam is given every two years with the next text date scheduled for April 30 of this year.
“When we have an opening, it takes a year for us to get someone back on the street,” Irving said, adding that the system does put pressure on police forces to hire less-qualified individuals just to fill the position.
The Wayland PD has made changes to compensate for the currently shorthanded workforce: Community Service Officer Mark Wilkins has transferred to the patrol division to help cover the shortage and officers are working overtime.
“It puts a strain on the overtime budget and it’s harder for us to do all the things we want to do,” Irving said.
Once a suitable candidate is selected from the list, the Police Academy is the next step and, assuming that person graduates from the academy, several months of field training follow before that officer can become a full patrol officer.
Irving said that all police officers begin as patrolmen or women and are promoted through the ranks from there.
Currently, Wayland has one candidate in the Police Academy. Irving expects that candidate to begin field training in August and be on the streets around the first of 2012.
Irving said he must fill the vacant positions before he can consider pulling another officer off the street to promote into the youth officer position, though there are officers serving on his force who are qualified and interested in the youth position.
While he has considered attempting to disconnect from the Massachusetts Civil Service system, Irving said that in itself is a lengthy process and would involve talks with the Wayland Police Officers Union among other steps.
For now, Irving said Wayland PD will remain within the system and work with what its given. He also said he hopes to fill that vacant youth officer position sooner rather than later.
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