Monday, July 9, 2012

Want to be a Woodstock cop?

The Woodstock Police Department is accepting applications for the position of police officer.

For the requirements, go to
Hover over City Departments, then hover over Police, then click on Press Releases

Click on the release for Recruitment; keep clicking

Will the City hire one officer? When will that hire be effective? Not a clue.

But an applicant must pay $40 for the privilege of applying, and it's non-refundable. So, let's say you send in your packet, and somebody in HR looks it and puts an "X" on your application.

Ka-ching. Thank you for your $40.00.

How many men and women might apply? 100? 200? 400?
So, $4,000? $8,000? $16,000?

An application fee should not be charged at the initial step! There is some serious screening that will take place, as the City cuts through the rough and trims the number of qualified applications down to a manageable number for written and physical testing. The City does not need to consider 100 applicants for one opening.

They could easily cut it down to 20-25 highly-qualified applicants. OK, suck up $40 from them. But not from 100-200, or more.

How long has the City had the "application fee"? Why doesn't the City Council exercise some wisdom and control over such a dumb policy?


John Lovaas said...

One reason for the application fee is to cover costs of background checks to weed out the community watch weirdos and pretend police officer psychos. One would hope that the city puts soem due diligence into the pre-hiring process- and that's going to cost money.

Perhaps you could explain to the taxpayers in Woodstock why we have to pay for a perfect stranger's pre-employment screening.

They don't work for the city yet, there's no corroborating evidence(when they present their resume)that they are qualified for a position of profound authority- but we should pay for that.


firecop said...

As a former commissioner, let me explain how testing works. Testing in Illinois for all Non-home rule municipalites is open to anyone that 21-35, and a High School graduate. Home rule communities may place further qualifications such as advanced degrees. So let's say 100 applicants apply. The $40/applicant is used to subsidize what it acutally costs to admister the test. Testing agencies usually a within a range: 1-10, 11-20, etc. From there, they go to a mandatory orientation, which explains the testing process, what the municipality does, and what they need to know about the department. The next phase is the written test. The test is for general apptitude. The test can not have anything job related, such as answering a question on how you would do something. It can have reading passages from job related texts, but questions must be from the passage. The norm for passing this phase is around 30%-40% of the applicants. From there they do the POWER physical ability test. The test is a qualified test, which is the physical test that is administered at the police acadamy on the 1st day of the acadamy, and you have to pass to stay. So after the physical ability test, the 100 applicants you started from is most likely down to 40. Some deparments either post the list now, and fore go interviews until hiring process is done to fill a vacancy/vacancies, or they do conduct interviews to scale down the list. From the 40 you now are down to a list of 20-30, which is a managable list.

The premise is that selection by local commissions do work. Those applying, usually have a clue as to what/how the process works, so ponying up application fee is a part of the course of getting the list and they want a job so bad they will pay a processing fee.

Gus said...

The City should not incur any early expense for pre-employment screenings, such as conducting criminal-history or background checks, drug screens, DMV records, past employment verification, checking references, written or oral testing, P.E. testing, until after all applications are rather quickly examined after hiring standards.

The City does not have to give close consideration to 400 applications for one open position.

The standards can be explained to a secretary, and she can go through the stack and make three piles: No, Yes and Maybe. Then the next civilian employee can make the second review. By that time, the pile ought to be cut down to about 25.

Many applicants may have BAs in law-enforcement, prior LE experience and be veterans. Any candidate without those three ought to have to be really good to be included with that batch.

You test and interview only the finalists.

Gus said...

firecop, thanks for the details. I still wonder - if you can look at an application and KNOW you are not even going to consider that applicant, why go any further?

Why not have applicants submit a one-paragraph, handwritten statement of why they want to be a cop? Then toss a graphoanalyst into the early selection process. Hire him/her for two hours to scan the handwriting samples. That would be money well-spent.

John Lovaas said...

Well, considering that graphoanalysis is pseudoscience and would not hold up as evidence of a person's personality or character- that could cost the city of Woodstock some money in the future.

If you believe 400 people will apply for the job, then there will be a great pool of candidates.

Gus said...

Graphoanalysis may be used more often than people think. In the early 1980s in Denver I met a graphoanalyst who had recently retired from the U.S. Army. She could read three lines of a person's handwriting and nail the personality.

In 1987 I met a graphoanalyst in Kansas City who noticed that her college-age daughter's handwriting had changed after a holiday visit at home. She observed "deceit" in the handwriting. She said deceit is not necessarily a bad trait in a person; if you're a spy, it's a great trait. If you are a bank teller, not so great.

Four months later her daughter admitted that her boyfriend and she had eloped and married on the return drive to college.

firecop said...

Gus, in order to keep the system fair, we don't even know who the canidates are except by number. The law is specific, unless you are homerule, you have to open it up to everyone. This is a little different then hiring say a Public Works person who the ultimate decision to hire lies with the Supt of PW. The ultimate authority to offer a police or fire position lies soley within the commission(except for deputies) "The board of fire and police commissioners shall appoint all officers and members of the fire and police departments of the municipality..." (65 ILCS 5/10-2.1-4)

In answer to you question about looking at an application. We can not look at one before a conditional offer is made, which would be part of the background check.

I doubt highly that Woodstock will get 400 applicants. As I stated before the fee serves a couple different things: It allows the municipality to recover some costs, at applicant expense. Most BoP&FCs don't get a budget, so they need to offset the cost. Secondly, if you pay $40 for application, you more than likely will return the application and participate in process. Many will take but few return. So if I have 250 apps out, I have to pay for 250 tests, even if 150 come and take test. $40 is a little stiff, most charge 25-35 per application.

There are more costs incurred than just sitting for the written test. Even if a service conducts both the written and physical tests, there need to be proctors for each physical station, which are normally done by current officers at OT rate. You pay for the test content, the proctor for the written, and scoring of the tests. They normally don't provide proctors for the physical test.

Gus said...

firecop, thanks for your recent comment.

No problem from me with "opening up" the application process to everyone. So anyone can apply. To me, that doesn't mean everyone should be tested.

Let's say I apply, even though I'm above the age maximum. I pay my $40; I get the application. I claim Age 34 is an illegal maximum age. It's certainly unreasonable. Maybe I'd claim age discrimination.

Should Woodstock have to test me?

While the ultimate authority to offer a police position lies solely with the BOFPC, it shouldn't waste its time with the low-qualified applicants.

Going to hire one? Look only at the best 10.

Whoever decided that the BOFPC cannot see an application until a conditional offer is made should have his head examined. When the BOFPC cuts down the pile to the best five and then ranks them, then do background checks. Make a conditional offer to No. 1 and give him three days to accept. If he accepts, then do a drug screen within 24 hours. If he passes, give him a Start Date.

BTW, random drug screens should be required for all police officers, deputies, sheriffs, troopers, conservation cops.

Is it $40 to get the application or $40 when you return the application? Probably, the latter. You're right; that's too high. Somebody in Woodstock set that rate.

Obviously, a BOFPC should pay only for the applicants who are tested, not for the number of applications sent out or received. If a testing firm requires a minimum, then the BOFPC negotiates. Unless the testing firm has an "in" with the hiring city or county, of course.

Hiring officers as written test proctors? At overtime rates? No way. The testing firm should provide the proctors.

Hiring officers to watch the P.E. part? Maybe, but not at overtime rates. Does the union has its finger in this pie?

firecop said...

Officers do not function as proctors for written. Normally one from the testing firm, and then the written and ability tests are posted as offical meetings, and commissioners act as proctors.

Anything an officer does for the employer is considered OT. So that is a mute issue. If I remember correctly the fee to supply the proctors via the company was higher than OT rate.

The statute gives sole authority for hire, fire, and promotion. It has to follow state laws. There was a time that the age limit was struck down and any age could be hired. That has since been struck down also, and age limit is back (much like hiring for Feds)

I have hired officers, with no background in law enforcement, and they have been better than some that do have experience. If they go to a good acadamy, and pay attention during FTO they will have no isssues. Remeber, a probationary officer can be dismissed for any/no reason. So if they don't make the grade see ya!! Again, it's not like the private sector where you can go through apps/resume's Everyone must be able to be considered... Don't like it, talk to Jack Franks, Mike Tryon, or Pam Althoff to get it changed