When will Tredyffrin Township hire budgeted police officers?
Looking for answers, today I met with Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo. I wanted to understand the search for and selection of police officers. As I explained to Giaimo, applicants for police department positions have contacted me over the last 6-8 months, anxious for a hiring update. I learned much about the police department hiring process and thought it worthwhile to share.
Early in 2012, the Tredyffrin Township Police Department advertised the April 14, 2012 physical assessment and written test date for vacancies in the department. According to Giaimo, 130+ individuals applied to take the physical and written exam. In addition to the application form, a physician statement and informed consent form were required.
The physical assessment is judged pass/fail; the written test included multiple-choice questions plus a written narrative. If a candidate passed the physical exam and received an 80% or higher score on the written exam, they moved to the next step. All candidates were notified of the test results 2-4 weeks following the April 14th exam.
Of the 130+ applicants, close to 100 individuals passed the physical test and scored 80% or higher on the written part. The next step for the successful applicants was an oral interview by an Oral Interview Board, composed of three police personnel selected by Giaimo. At the time of the interview, applicants were required to provide education transcripts, military discharge papers when applicable, and three reference letters (other than relative and employers). Failure to provide documents at the interview, disqualified applicants from the selection process. The interviews were conducted between June and August 2012.
Each member of the Oral Interview Board independently scores the oral interviews and those scores are then added to the written exam score. For those applicants that advance to the next step, they receive a polygraph examination. According to Giaimo, the polygraph test is to indicate deception on a pre-determined set of questions. After the polygraph phase, the top list of 15 candidates is prepared. The ranking is based on all phases of the test process to this point. For those 15 candidates, the next step is a background investigation by the Tredyffrin Township Police Department including previous employment, education record, military record, criminal history, credit rating, etc.
The next step is a conditional offer of employment. Hiring is contingent upon successful completion of psychological and physical examinations and selection by the Police Superintendent. (I believe this part of the examination process takes approximately 4 months.) Once this conditional phase is completed, the cadet serves a two-year probationary period.
At the start, prospective applicants are told that the process takes approximately 6-8 months from the time the exam is taken – in this case, the exam was given on April 14 so if they successfully completed each step, vacancies were to be filled somewhere between October – December, 2012.
I received a call from a father of one of the cadets that is on Tredyffrin Police Department’s ‘short list’ in early January, looking for an update. I assured him that the township would be hiring 2 police officers shortly. I was confident giving this response for the following reasons, (1) the police contract was settled; (2) the ICMA consultant’s study (pg. 11) suggested a minimum of 2 additional officers were required to maintain township safety levels and (3) supervisors approved the 2013 budget that included 2 additional police officers (with the possibility of a third officer added sometime during the year).
The focus of my meeting with Superintendent Giaimo was to find out the hiring date of the two police officers. Remember the cadets were told last April the application process would take approximately 6-8 months; it’s now 10 months!
I could not believe Giaimo’s response today re the hiring of police officers; telling me that he had not been authorized to hire. What? That’s right folks. The police contract was signed in December and the 2013 township budget approved (which included the hiring of the two officers) but the Board of Supervisors have not given Giaimo permission to hire the two officers. Gosh, even pg. 11 of the ICMA police department study indicated the township needed to hire two officers to maintain satisfactory safety levels.
Giaimo assured me that he has the ranked list of candidates ready to go — all he needs is the OK from the BOS to make the offers. If you think that adequate staffing of our Police Department is an important issue, you may want to attend the next BOS meeting on February 11 and offer your opinion.