DEADLINES NEAR: Shelton seeks police officer applicants

Shelton is seeking to hire more police officers, and has extended an application deadline in order to attract more candidates.

The Shelton Police Department is authorized for 62 certified members, but now only has 50 certified members.

Police Chief Joel Hurliman said another two officers have submitted their retirement papers, so the number of openings will increase from 12 to 14 in the next few months.

The mayor serves as the hiring authority for the Police Department because Shelton doesn’t have a Police Commission. “We have some hiring to do,” Mayor Mark Lauretti said.

The application deadline for non-certified applicants is March 20, while already certified personnel have until March 31.

People must go through a certification process to be qualified to be a police officer in Connecticut, which involves attending a police training academy.

Competition: Many departments hiring

Hurliman said many police departments are now trying to hire officers because it’s been more than two decades since the federal COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program began, which provided local departments with federal funds to hire officers. Many of these officers now are retiring.

“Unfortunately, everyone under the sun is hiring now,” Hurliman said, which is impacting the number of applications being received.

‘It's a great place to work’

Hurliman said Shelton is a good location to be an officer, and the department’s efforts have helped keep the crime rate low.

“It’s a great place to work, and most people don’t want to leave the department even when they can,” he said.

Salaries are in the middle range for police officers in Fairfield County, he said, and Shelton offers a convenient commute for anyone who lives in this area compared to having to drive to higher-paying jobs in lower Fairfield County.

Potential applicants may see pluses and minuses to working in Shelton. Police officers are in a defined pension plan, which is a plus, but already-certified officers start at the bottom when it comes to vacation time received, which is a minus.

Hurliman said the current size of the Shelton Police Department isn’t a problem, but it could become one if even more officers should retire or leave. “If it goes down much more, it could become an issue,” he said.

A smaller department generally leads to more overtime for officers, but if the agency’s staff gets too small, filling all the overtime can become a challenge.

Academy slots must be secured

The city will need to secure slots in training academies for qualified non-certified candidates. Two such slots are reserved for July at the state police academy in Meriden, but openings will need to be found in other academies around Connecticut for additional recruits.

Already-certified personnel usually are working as officers in other Connecticut towns and cities. “We’ll also probably hire a few certified people,” Hurliman said.

Hurliman himself is nearing his 35th year as a full-time employee on the force. His ninth anniversary as chief was March 1, and he is expected to get a new contract to stay another year.

Requirements to be a Shelton officer

Applicants for police officer must have a high school or equivalent diploma, be a U.S. citizen, be 21 years old, and hold a Connecticut driver’s license. They also must meet certain physical requirements.

There is a $50 application fee, and completed applications must be submitted at City Hall (no electronic applications are accepted).

Written and oral exams will be given as part of the process, plus psychological testing and background checks. An outside company is used to oversee the testing.

A list of qualified candidates is put together and then presented to the mayor, who appoints new officers, with the police chief making recommendations.

The Shelton Human Resources Office is overseeing the application process, and can be reached at 203-924-1555, ext. 1310 or ext. 1373.