September 30 2014

Police Dept. Looking to Fill Personnel Gap

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Police Department is looking for a few good men and women to help fill its ranks and make up for a deficit in personnel. 


Police Chief Michael Kent told BNEWS that the department is currently down five members out of the 64-officer total it is allowed. Kent said the department also has one officer out on long-term injury leave and it is possible another will retire within a year. 


Kent said being down officers has an impact on the department. 


“It puts strain on scheduling,” he said. “It certainly has an impact on shift coverage and on overtime. There are times when we have to order people to work shifts, which we don’t like doing, but in public safety you have to have the bodies out there.”


The department is holding a written entrance exam on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Burlington High School. The exam is being given by Police Exam Solutions, a company that assists police departments with the hiring process. Kent said that until recently the department had used the state Civil Service program for recruitment and assessment but, like many municipalities, has decided to move away from using that service. 


“Quite a few communities are doing this,” he said. “Civil Service is a cumbersome process and has been cut recently. There are only two people who handle all the police departments in the state and it takes a long time to get answers.” 


Due to a recently policy changed approved by the Burlington Board of Selectmen, Kent is free to recruit applicants from anywhere in the country without the need to give priority to hiring town residents. The change in that policy sparked a debate between Kent and Selectman Michael Runyan during the Sept. 22 selectmen meeting. See the video here


There are a number of requirements candidates must meet in order to be considered. These include being a United States citizen between the ages of 21 and 35, not smoking, being legally able to carry a firearm in Massachusetts and to have never been convicted a felony, among others. 


Kent said that after the written exam, those who meet the department’s standards will be further vetted by town officials, including the human resources department and representatives from the police unions. Candidates must also undergo further rounds of interviews, a physical fitness assessment and a background check. 


“I’m hoping to be through with the process and have viable candidates to present to the Board of Selectmen at the beginning of February,” Kent said. 

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