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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

City to gain 55 police recruits

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— The city is poised to seat as many as 55 new police recruits by the end of the month, welcome news for the department in which staffing levels have again dipped below 400.
Ten prospective city cops already started six months of training at the Stamford police academy this week and the goal, according to Scott Nabel, the human resources director at the Police Department, is to seat 45 more at New Haven’s academy on May 20.
That’s the most the state will allow in a single academy class.
“We’re a little short,” Acting Police Chief Stephanie Redding told community members this week. Indeed, the department is about 100 below its budgeted strength and any staffing gains from the last year’s graduation of about 30 new police officers already has been offset by a steady stream of retirements.
“We need the police officers on the street. The mayor is aware of that,” said Richard Epstein, chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners. “It’s clearly a juggling act with the budget in the city but we need to do it. That’s balanced with finding enough qualified people to be police officers. Hopefully we’ll find enough.”
Even two weeks before the class is seated, precisely who will be in it isn’t entirely clear.
All candidates already cleared a series of hurdles to get this far in the process and will take a pre-assessment agility test on Thursday, 5/8Nabel said.
Should a candidate fail, he or she will have one more chance to pass the state-required agility test on the first day of the academy, meaning they would be competing for their jobs while a group of wait-listed candidates, currently on the outside looking in, will compete for any seats that might open up if someone washes out.
“The actual composition of that class will not be known until that first day when people are running for their seats or running to displace folks,” Nabel said.
The recruitment drive last year, which drew more than 900 applications, yielded a hiring list of about 280 and so far the city has made around 200 conditional offers. Some people dropped out on their own and others were knocked out of contention for one reason or another, be it something in their background investigation or a red flag in the polygraph or psychological exam. The ranked list expires after two years and the hope at the department is that it will generate another 20 or so candidates, either in a class at the New Haven academy or piecemeal at other academies around the state.
The hiring, which would be the most in one year in a decade, is part of Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s plan to aggressively beef up the police ranks, a pledge he make in 2006 after a summer of youth violence claimed the lives of two 13-year-olds.

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