In the past few weeks we have been actively interviewing people to be police officers. We have had a series of retirements (if you are a regular reader you already know that) and we just now see some opportunity to hire some new people. I take this responsibility very seriously. Not just anyone will do. I know that we are hiring people to be part of this community for the next 25+ years so we have to do it right.
We are not a civil service community meaning that Auburn Hills never passed the state law which sets in place a civil service system. The good side of that is that it gives us some latitude to update our hiring procedures as we need to. We don’t form lists and rigidly hire from the lists.
When a person applies here for a police officer job, we compare the application to a set of criteria we have pre established. Like we prefer bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice but we will sometimes take AA degrees for the right person. We like a little work experience in policing. No history of arrests and a driving record that tells us the person is not reckless or uses bad judgement. We do some early stage checking on their academic record and a limited check of their records. We like them to be already licensed by the State to be a police officer or be through the academy and ready to license. Then we invite them to an interview.
The first interview panel is with members of our department let by Lt. Thom Hardesty. We use a supervisor and officer from the FTO (Field Training Officer) group and they evaluate people for their basic traits and knowledge of the job. That group is whittled down and the candidate has a second interview with the City Manager, Assistant City Manager and me. If we like them, we extend a conditional offer of employment–that means that we are offering them a job conditioned on their satisfactory completion of a background check, a psychological test and a physical examination.
The background check is very thorough (shouldn’t it be? we’re giving them a gun). They fill out a 30 page background questionnaire and tell us their life history. We send that to a private firm for investigation. The investigator is a retired police investigator who does a thorough and careful job of investigating all aspects of the candidate’s life. I think this is a very important part of the whole process. We are confirming what the candidate has told us about him/herself looking for lies or inconsistency. A person doesn’t have to be perfect but they do have to be honest and have a clean record. We can’t set people loose on the public with guns and authority unless we are completely sure they are worthy of our trust and the public’s trust.
If they are successful there, we send them for a psychological examination with a police psychologist for a day long event consisting of a battery of tests and a long interview. It is a very intense experience. And required by law. Once again we have to know what a person is about before we hand over this kind of responsiblity.
Lastly they are required to take a physical to make sure that they can meet the requirements of this physical job. And it is a physical job–chasing people on foot, struggling with people who don’t want to be arrested. That is an aspect of the job that never goes away.
So as you can see–this is a tough process. Even after a person gets hired they have to get through the Field Training process (another intense program) in the first 4-6 months and then a year’s probationary period.
I like that it is so challenging — people don’t choose us randomly or because they don’t have anything else to do. They have to really WANT to do this job. And that is how it should be.