Although voters have yet to approve a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, the police department is proceeding with plans to hire additional officers in light of public requests for added police staffing to beef up security at local schools.
That public push for more police officers comes in the wake of the 12/14 mass murder incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe said this week that the police department has expanded the range of people from whom it is accepting applications for an upcoming written test for the position of police officer.
Last week, the police department opened up the field of applicants to include the general public, he said. Before that, the department had only been allowing people who held current certifications as a police officer in Connecticut to apply for a police job.
The department plans to hold the written test for the post of police officer at 9 am on June 1 at Newtown High School.
On April 23, voters at referendum rejected spending $111 million next fiscal year. They defeated both a $72 million education budget proposal and a $39 million town government budget proposal.
A revised budget proposal which has reduced the $111 million proposal by about $900,000 is slated for a May 14 referendum.
Initially, the Police Commission had proposed expanding the 45-member police department to 56 members. The commission now, however, is seeking to expand the policed department to either 48 or 49 members.
The department formerly had 47 members, but its authorized complement had dropped to 45 people by attrition.
Chief Kehoe said that the department has dropped its plans to have the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association aid it in the police officer hiring process, opting instead to independently manage its hiring process.
As in the past, the department will have consultant Larry Jetmore administer the written test aspect of the hiring process. The test includes multiple choice questions, as well as an essay question. The essay question tests job applicants’ written communication skills, such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.
Police applicants also must pass a physical fitness and agility test to be considered for employment.
Chief Kehoe said that some current police officers from other police departments have applied to become a Newtown police officer. The chief did not disclose how many officers have applied for a Newtown post.
The chief said that considering economic conditions, many people are looking for employment, adding that he expects a strong response to the police department’s accepting job applications.
The annual starting salary for people without an existing certification as a police officer is $50,786.
Applications are available at either the Newtown Police Department or online at www.newtown-ct.gov.
Applications must be returned with a nonrefundable $50 certified check or money order made payable to the Town of Newtown. The closing date for applications is May 24.
In the police hiring process, based on interviews, the Police Commission develops a list of job candidates who receive conditional offers of employment, provided that those candidates meet applicable hiring standards.
Potential employees are subject to medical examinations, psychological testing, polygraph tests, and personal background checks. The lengthy police hiring process is designed to find the people who are best suited for police work.
After their hiring, new police officers attend the Connecticut Municipal Police Academy in Meriden and then undergo local field training before beginning independent patrol work.