Residents get city job boost

Much to the envy of midterm-swamped Yale students, extra credit will soon be granted to New Haven residents who apply to entry-level city jobs.

Applicants participating in the New Haven Police Department’s ongoing recruitment campaign will receive five bonus points on the civil service qualifying exam if they are city residents and have already achieved a passing grade of 70 out of 100. The new rule was formally instituted early last week after the New Haven Civil Services Commission codified the proposition, which had been first introduced over a decade ago.

Commission Chair James Segaloff said the commission passed the rule unanimously after hosting both a public forum and a public hearing over the past month, in time for the start of the NHPD’s annual recruitment drive. He said the commission, which was already conducting a reexamination of the civil service rules and regulations, decided to make the rule its first priority because of the impact it could have on the then-upcoming recruitment drive.

“I do know that [the NHPD and New Haven Fire Department] were looking to test for entry-level positions for police and firemen, and they wanted to get [the rule examined] as soon as possible and make that a priority,” Segaloff said. “It struck us that this question of preference points was an appropriate point to start.”

The NHPD started accepting applicants for this year’s recruitment drive on Oct. 16 and will continue to do so until the deadline on Oct. 27, according to a statement released by the Department at the launch of the drive. The only specific residency requirement is that officers must live within 20 miles of New Haven upon graduation from the New Haven Police Academy. The NHFD has does not currently have a specific deadline for applications.

Under the new rule, police officers and other civil service workers not already required to live in the city still will not be required to do so. Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield, who attended the forum, said that residents of his ward were strongly in support of giving an advantage to New Haven residents.

“I know this is an issue people in my ward care about, and we’ve had conversations about it,” he said. “I know they want more civil service people to live in the city. If you’re living in the community, you are much more concerned with the quality of life of the city.”

Goldfield said he was struck by the fact that more than half of police officers and firefighters live outside of New Haven. Police officers from the New Haven community may care more about and respond more to quality of life issues than officers from the surrounding suburbs do, he said.

NHPD spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester declined to comment on the ongoing recruitment drive or the effect that the new rule might have on applicant demographics. NHFD Chief Michael Grant could not be reached for comment.

While Segaloff said he supported the proposition during the commission’s vote, he said that rule was not passed in response to a perceived shortage of New Haven residents in police positions and city jobs in general. Rather, he said, the bonus points are meant to encourage residents to apply for city jobs.

Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said the rule will not affect applicants to the Yale Police Department, which operates independently of the NHPD. The YPD has no official position on the new rule, he said.

Though the principle behind the rule was generally well received at the public forums and hearings, Goldfield said the main controversy surrounding the rule centered around how to award the preference points. In response to arguments that adding a set number of points to residents’ scores might negatively affect the quality of the applicant pool, Goldfield said he advocated a percentage-based system that determined bonus points based on an applicant’s score.

But Segaloff said the commission settled on adding five points rather than the percentages or the ten points supported by some.

“There was no magic to it, but we saw that most [other] municipalities that give preference points give five,” he said. “We thought it was an appropriate boost to people who live in New Haven, pay taxes to New Haven and care about New Haven.”

The preference points proposal was also supported by minorities in the community, including the Aldermanic Black and Hispanic Caucus, which voted to back the proposal in September. According to the most recent NHPD statistics, 43 percent of the force consists of minorities, while the U.S. Census estimates that 43.5 percent of New Haven residents are minorities.

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