Plan would give edge to Elm City residents applying for city jobs

City and police officials are touting a plan to give local residents hunting for municipal jobs a hometown advantage.

If the city’s civil service commission approves the plan, New Haven citizens who apply for teaching and law enforcement positions will receive bonus points on the civil service exam — a move that several city officials said will benefit the city economically and socially.

Civil Service Commission Chairman James Segaloff said that while the city has informally given preference to New Haven residents in the past, the commission will hopefully vote on whether or not to formalize this change in time for the New Haven police and fire departments’ annual recruitment drives.

“This was talked about by the commission years ago,” Segaloff said. “Now we’re talking about codifying, writing it in the rulebook.”

The proposed hometown advantage has generated praise from members of the Board of Alderman and law enforcement officials, who said that giving residents of New Haven an advantage in the application process will help the city’s police and fire forces to better reflect the diverse community they serve.

Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said he thinks the police would be able to serve the needs of the public more effectively if members of the police force were part of the New Haven community.

“It will certainly impact the idea of community policing if [officers] were parts of the community they served,” he said. “Right now, several of our officers live in towns just outside of the city, like Branford and Hamden. They go home to a place other than New Haven at night.”

NHPD spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said she could not comment on the NHPD’s official view on the proposed change. But Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said officers are more effective when they are intimately acquainted with the communities they serve. These officers, Patten said, not only have a better feel for the dynamics of certain neighborhoods, but also have more credibility among residents than outsiders might have.

“It’s definitely a helpful thing,” he said. “No question about it.”

A recent study conducted by the NHPD showed that 43 percent of all employees identified themselves as minorities, Winchester said. City-wide, the United States Census Bureau estimates that 43.5 percent of New Haven residents are minorities.

In addition to helping increase diversity among city employees, Goldfield said New Haven would likely benefit economically from the change. He said city employees who are residents of New Haven would pay income taxes to the city, unlike employees from Hamden, Milford and Branford, who pay their taxes to these neighboring towns.

“We’ll be able to keep New Haven’s money in New Haven instead of giving it away to other cities,” he said.

Segaloff said the Civil Service Commission will host a public hearing on Oct. 10 to assess public opinion on the issue.

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