Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Hiring of Public Safety Professionals: An Overview

ResiStat recently received a question about the City's decision to bypass a certain candidate for its Fire Department. Mayor Curtatone and his administration take the hiring of public safety professionals (and all other City employees) very seriously. Each new firefighter and police officer is an investment in the City's safety and its future progress. Unfortunately, however, personnel decisions come with legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of applicants and employees. Therefore, we cannot be as transparent about specific hiring decisions as we are with other policy recommendations.

Nevertheless, we can talk about the process:

The hiring of public safety professionals is seen as a 30+ year commitment in an employee who will earn millions of dollars of tax-payer money over the course of his or her career. Not only does this suggest that public safety hiring must consider the wise use of tax-payer dollars, but often these individuals are the people our residents see on the worst days of their lives (home fires, robberies, etc.) It is critical that the best candidates are hired to the Somerville Police and Fire Departments.

Individuals interested in police or fire appointments in municipalities take Civil Service tests offered by the State. When the City wants to hire it requests “Certified lists” from the State to hire off of.

All candidates are then put through a comprehensive screening process including an orientation, submittal of a complete application packet, a background investigation conducted by a specifically trained Somerville Police Detective, a drug screen, an extensive physical exam, psychological evaluations, the State’s required Physical Aptitude Test, an interview by the selection committee, an interview by the Mayor, and an interview by the Board of Aldermen.

Not completing any step in this process - including not passing specific exams or screens, or providing false information during the application and interview process - may lead to elimination from the process.

All candidates are treated equally and fairly. Decisions are made in the best interests of the taxpayers and residents of Somerville to ensure the public safety of our community for decades to come.

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