Police chief looks to build pool of recruits should new contract trigger retirements
There’s no telling how many vacancies will open up within the ranks of Warwick Police over the next two years, but Col. Stephen McCartney wants to be certain he has the best men and women to fill the slots.
Yesterday, McCartney and Mayor Scott Avedisian kicked off the department’s recruitment drive at police headquarters. McCartney said, after a press conference, that he would be happy to have a pool of 50 to 75 qualified candidates, given that upcoming contract negotiations could trigger untold retirements.
The current contract expires June 30 and McCartney expects contract talks will commence within the next couple of months. With “hot burner issues” of pension benefits and health care on the state and local level, McCartney would not be surprised if retirements ran higher than usual as the result of a new contract that impacts either co-payment on health care or pensions, or both.
Already the City Council has approved pension reforms proposed by Avedisian that alter the benefits of municipal employees hired after July 1, 2012. Conceivable, however, additional revisions could be a part of a new contract.
Presently, the department has a complement of 163 officers, which McCartney expects will drop to 161 by mid-March. He said five recruits are currently enrolled in the police academy.
Applicants undergo a vigorous series of physical and written tests, plus background checks, before being placed on the list of qualified candidates. Recruits start at $39,000 a year.
To get out the word, the department will advertise in print and web-based local and regional media outlets. The campaign will also use Internet job boards, social networks and radio and television announcements.
The budgeted cost of the campaign is $7,900 and will come from asset forfeiture funds and not the taxpayers, McCartney emphasized.
The department is also getting word out to Salve Regina College and Roger Williams University, both of which offer advanced degrees in police work, and CCRI, that offers an associate degree.
Applicants must be between 21 and 35 years old, a United States citizen with a minimum of 60 college credits from an accredited college or university, or proof of five years of continuous military reserve service or three years of active duty. Those with three years of law enforcement or corrections experience but do not have the requisite college credits will also receive consideration and are encouraged to apply. Applicants must also hold a valid driver’s license, be of good moral character and successfully complete a selection process, including a physical agility test, written exam and oral interview, and a thorough background investigation.
“There is never a shortage of people applying,” Avedisian said when asked what he expected would be the reaction to the campaign. He said he would rather have a smaller pool of well-qualified candidates than a large pool of unqualified candidates.
Describing the process, McCartney said, after being selected and passing the required tests and checks, a candidate is enrolled in the police academy and upon graduation is certified as a probationary officer. They serve for a year in probationary status before becoming a full officer, McCartney said.
For more information, call Warwick Police at 468-4233 or visit the website at www.warwickpd.org.