NHPD boosts recruitment

With a brand-new class of recruits and new hires on the ground, the New Haven Police Department is in the midst of its largest hiring spree in recent history.

After years of struggling to lure top-tier police recruits, the city’s Police Department is following through on its promises to ramp up manpower by the end of next year. Between 100 and 150 new police officers will hit the streets of New Haven as early as October 2014, after this summer’s police recruitment campaign netted thousands of applicants, according to New Haven Police Academy director Sgt. Anthony Campbell ’95 DIV ’09.

This year’s recruitment campaign — the first communitywide police recruitment drive in the Elm City since 2011 — kicked off in May with a series of information sessions, open houses and career events to explain the fundamentals of the job and attract as many hopeful police hires as possible.

In an effort to target a broader audience and expand its candidate pool, the NHPD deployed for the first time in the department’s history an online application system to collect and review digital applications. The new computerized application process worked according to plan, Campbell said: Between June 10–28, the recruitment drive garnered a total of 1,495 applications on policeapp.com, more than double the number from the last NHPD recruitment drive two years ago.

“We wanted to reach a large number of people, and we took advantage of this new online system,” Campbell said.

He added that media coverage of NHPD recruitment events has also been an important factor in what he called the most successful recruitment drive to date.

In July and August, the Police Department winnowed down the list of hopeful candidates through multiple rounds of physical, written and oral tests to assess the applicants’ physical fitness, reasoning abilities, maturity and communication skills — a process that concluded roughly a week and a half ago, Campbell said.

Within the next two weeks, he said, the NHPD will compile a ranking of the candidates based on their performance in the tests, and conditional job offers will be extended to about 250 successful applicants. These candidates, Campbell said, will then undergo a series of background checks — including psychological and medical screenings — before being cleared to enter the New Haven Police Academy.

“It’s a pretty intense process,” Campbell said, adding that the police academy allows groups of only 45 cadets to receive training at a time. The first batch of new hires, he said, is expected to enter the 28-week training program next February and will graduate by October 2014.

This summer’s recruitment drive will bolster the city’s efforts to combat violence and crime through an enhanced police presence in all of New Haven’s neighborhoods — a position that NHPD Chief Dean Esserman has been championing since he took the helm of the Police Department in November 2011.

According to Campbell, the addition of new police boots will help Esserman fully realize his vision of “community policing,” a strategy that aims to increase police visibility and promote greater interaction between community residents and officers walking their beats.

Esserman’s philosophy has received great praise from city officials, including Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who has repeatedly pledged to solidify the police force and address the decline in the department’s staffing over the years.

“The city is committing to strengthening the Police Department and having a strong community policing program,” DeStefano said at a conference earlier this year. “Both of these will assist in working toward New Haven’s No. 1 public safety goal, which is reducing violence.”

In keeping with DeStefano’s promises, a total of 66 new police officers were sworn in this year, including, most recently, a group of 26 policemen who graduated from the New Haven Police Academy last month.

The new officers are now in the midst of completing a three-month field-training program, after which they will be deployed to walking beats throughout the city, according to City Hall spokeswoman Anna Mariotti.

NHPD applicants must be U.S. citizens and 21 years of age or older.

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