Most people know that it takes a lot to get into Yale. But they may not realize how much it takes to get hired as a University police officer.
With a carrying capacity of 79 officers and only 71 spots full, the Yale Police Department has begun recruiting for about eight new officers, Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten said. Over 300 hopefuls — including a police officer stationed in Bosnia and looking to return to the U.S. — got their applications in before the Sept. 27 deadline.
The hiring and training process is so grueling, however, that only a handful of candidates will ever get to suit up as part of the Yale force.
For the past several years, the YPD outsourced its recruitment process to the South Central Criminal Justice Administration, or SCCJA, Administrative Services Coordinator Walter Northrop said. The SCCJA acts as a consortium of a handful of police departments in Connecticut. Serving a function similar to that of the common application in the college admissions process, the SCCJA allows applicants to complete one set of forms and then indicate which departments they want to receive the forms.
One of the main reasons the YPD used the program in the past was its low cost, Northrup said. Since several police departments participate, the costs of recruitment were split as many as seven ways.
But this year the YPD handled the recruitment process itself. As a result, it was forced to allocate greater funds for printing, advertising and application processing, police said. Luckily, these costs are not prohibitive.
“It costs more money to do it ourselves, but it’s not astronomical,” Northrop said.
By running its own recruiting the YPD gets a more dedicated yield of applicants, Patten said. Under the SCCJA system, the YPD theoretically could have been low on an applicant’s list. This year Yale police officer-hopefuls had to complete an application specifically for the YPD. Patten said this will have a positive impact.
“Basically we want to know people who are applying here are dedicated to coming here,” he said. “A unique application is a way of doing that.”
Over its six-month recruitment process, the YPD advertised in local newspapers such as The Inner City, La Voz Hispana de Connecticut, and the New Haven Register. They also posted on the Web sites of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council and the Connecticut Department of Labor, Northrop said.
The YPD also printed up its own brochures and posters and distributed them in the community.
Now that all the applications are in, the candidates are awaiting their first hurdle: a series of physical agility tests Oct. 19 at Coxe Cage.
If they past this battery of physical tests, the candidates move on to a written exam. Only those scoring at or above the 70th percentile are allowed to move on.
YPD detectives then perform extensive background checks on those who pass. This background check generally includes interviews with neighbors, family and old employers and co-workers, Patten said.
Those who survive the rigorous background investigation move on to one of several police academies in Connecticut, Patten said. Training time varies but a recruit will usually spend seven to nine months studying general academics, police procedure, constitutional law, and criminology.
Academy graduates must then complete 10 weeks of field training — working alongside an actual officer on his beat — along with a panel discussion and a one-on-one interview with Yale Police Chief James Perrotti.
“If somebody gets through all of those checkpoints, you can bet they’re going to be a solid police officer,” Patten said.