Town Talk: Police officer hiring process
Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Ulm Police Department (NUPD) has just concluded a hiring process from which two officers will be joining our agency in the next few weeks, bringing the NUPD to full staff. I was asked to write this article to share with readers the process of how we hire and train new officers for our agency.
The hiring process is initiated and overseen by the New Ulm Human Resources Director. Applications are received, reviewed and scored, with the top candidates selected to be interviewed. The initial interview panel is comprised of the human resources director and NUPD personnel. Upon completion of the interviews, applicants are again scored. A smaller group of candidates are selected to undergo an extensive background investigation.
The background investigation consists of the candidate completing a 42 page background questionnaire and providing supporting documentation to ensure academic, licensing and other eligibility requirements are met. A NUPD background investigator meets and speaks with the applicant, as well as the applicant’s past employers, co-workers, academic institutions, instructors, creditors, landlords, family members, neighbors, acquaintances, and references to determine whether the candidate has any issues that would disqualify them from further consideration. A NUPD background investigator generally spends 40-80 hours in conducting a background investigation for each candidate.
After the background phase of the process is completed for all candidates, the New Ulm Police Commission members, city manager, human resources director and chief of police conduct a second interview. The panel scores each candidate, discusses and ranks the candidates, then recommends the top candidates to the police chief. A conditional offer of employment is made to the successful candidate and the candidate is scheduled for a psychological and physical evaluation. Based upon positive evaluation results, the candidate is then hired.
Upon starting employment with NUPD a new officer spends the first few days being outfitted with uniforms and equipment as well as completing training in use of force, Taser and firearms. Even well-experienced officers are required to complete this training when joining the NUPD.
The new officer then begins the NUPD field training program. The program is designed to be twelve to sixteen weeks in length and provide training and coaching regarding all aspects of our duties. The new officer moves through the program by demonstrating proficiency in the numerous tasks that make up the program.
Field training consists of four phases. During the first three phases of the field training program our new officer is paired with three different uniformed field training officers (FTO). During the last phase our new officer is “shadowed” by one of our field training officers in civilian clothing. Upon completing the field training program our new officer is certified for solo patrol and is assigned to a shift. The department currently has seven certified field training officers in order to give our new officers a wide range of experience and policing styles from which to learn and develop their own approach to the job and the people we serve.
The process of putting a new officer on the street takes notable time and effort by many people. It is, however, necessary if we are to provide professional police services to our community.