Aldermen should vote soon on altering Shelton police hiring rules

Police Chief Joel Hurliman said proposed changes in the city’s police hiring ordinance would improve and expedite the process, especially when it comes to applicants already certified to be officers.

Certified personnel now get a few extra points on the hiring test, but with the changes would get more points based on their experience, Hurliman told aldermen during a recent public hearing on the proposal.

Additional people from the written test would qualify to take the oral exam, Hurliman said, explaining that some good candidates excel in parts of the testing process that come after the written exam.

With the changes, Hurliman said, the Shelton Police Department might be able to hire qualified, already-certified offers in a matter of a few weeks.

The new employees still would have to undergo a thorough evaluation process that includes a physical test, drug test, psychological test, and background check.

Hurliman said the changes would make the process of hiring new recruits less complicated as well. “It also makes it less cumbersome for people who aren’t certified,” he said.

Aldermen to act soon

The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the proposed ordinance changes as soon as the aldermanic meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Alderman John F. Anglace Jr., board president, said it appears the proposed changes would help the city hire “already qualified” people on a more timely basis. He said the current ordinance’s wording “has inhibited our ability to hire people.”

Hurliman noted that Shelton competes with other towns for new officers, and some nearby municipalities now are able to hire already-certified personnel much more quickly than Shelton.

‘Lateral transfer’

Evan Sarris of Shelton, who recently retired from the Stratford Police Department after 27 years, said hiring already-certified applicants has many advantages for a community.

Sarris said with “a lateral transfer,” people can begin working as an officer right away. They only need to learn a community’s streets to do their job, he said.

“That’s who you want,” Sarris said.

He pointed out that most enforcement actions involve state laws, which are uniform throughout Connecticut.

Sarris said someone who has been a police officer knows what is expected of an officer and what to expect with the position, while it might take five years or more for someone new to the job to fully understand what is involved.

Securing academy slots

Non-certified personnel must attend a 26-week police academy, and securing open slots for recruits on a timely basis can be difficult. Recruits then have to go through field training with the Shelton force.

Already-certified personnel do not have to go to the academy.

The Shelton Police Department is authorized to have 62 officers but now only has 51 sworn officers, partly due to recent retirements.

The city expects to hire up to six officers during the course of this year.

An internal promotional test for sergeant will begin later this month, and the date for a similar test for detective should be announced soon, Hurliman said.