Prospective Yale police officers came to campus this weekend for the first round of testing — featuring sit-ups and other physical exercises — during the Yale Police Department’s annual recruitment effort.
Two batches of approximately 15 applicants each participated in the YPD’s first set of fitness testing in this year’s recruitment drive. The department initiated its effort in October, but unlike previous years the YPD has set no deadline for applications, officials said. Instead, applications will be continually accepted so that positions can be filled as needed, said YPD Sgt. Steven Woznyk, who is overseeing the recruitment effort.
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“In October we began a newly implemented ongoing recruitment campaign, [and] that allows us to fill openings as they happen,” he said. “This process allows us to deviate from methods of other departments that have deadlines [and] that have only one exam [time].”
The approximately 30 recruits who came to campus Saturday for the physical test were the first of about 90 applicants to take the exam, he said. The YPD will hold more batches of testing for the remaining and future recruits.
Woznyk said he expects the department to receive approximately another 100 applications within the next month, due in large part to the open deadline and continuing outreach efforts.
Woznyk and other officials working on the recruitment effort said officers have been actively involved in going to different parts of the community in and around New Haven in order to raise awareness about recruitment. The YPD also visited local universities and the National Center for Women in Policing to attract applicants. He said the YPD plans to visit more universities in the coming year.
Last month, the YPD held an open house and information session in the Rose Center, the department’s new home on Ashmun St. Woznyk said the YPD had never before been able to host such an event, which 106 people attended, because they have only recently moved into the building.
YPD Lt. Ronnell Higgins said the open house was very helpful in letting potential applicants gain a better understanding of the department, the University and the local community.
“Many people did not know we are the first university police department in the country,” he said. “Many did not know the area we cover, many did not know all the services we offer.”
For the prospective recruits who then followed through with the application and took the physical test, Saturday was just the beginning of a process that can take almost a year.
Higgins said those recruits who passed the fitness exam were invited back Sunday to take the written exam. After passing both exams, recruits must complete a series of interviews, polygraph tests and background tests before being considered for admission to the police academy, which is contingent on openings at the academy. Woznyk said he expects approximately six recruits to enter the academy this spring, though the number may change.
After six months of training at the academy and in the field, candidates become qualified to work as officers, Woznyk said.
Higgins, who worked as a correctional officer before becoming a police officer, said he had initially applied to the YPD because the New Haven Police Department was not hiring at the time.
“My dad was a New Haven police officer, but the NHPD was not hiring at the time, so he knew the YPD and recommended I look at them, so I did my homework and applied and the rest is history,” he said. “Now I work for a world-class university. … I went from jail to Yale.”
YPD Lt. Michael Patten said he thinks the Department currently has 10 or 11 vacancies, though he could not officially confirm the number.