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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Understand the Rules of Applications

The fine print may benefit or eliminate you.

January 13, 2009  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

The other day I was discussing the civil service hiring process with my executive assistant, Michelle. She is the civil service administrator and oversees the process for many applicants for police and fire. She has some noteworthy advice for applicants that all too often they do not heed. Let's see what Michelle has to offer to you.

Read and Understand

Wherever you apply there will be hiring rules and regulations for public disclosure. With our process you are given a fact sheet of the civil service talking points and the job description. Some agencies place these elements on their Websites. First of all, read them. Better yet, fully read and understand all of the rules and regulations provided.

Every state, city, county, or what-have-you will have its own idiosyncrasies. Do not contact me and ask me for my insights. These are their rules; call them.

Usually with rules there is some rationale behind them. For instance, most agencies require that you be 21 years old at the time of application. If you are a few days short, then it is not going to happen. I have seen youngsters apply who were not of proper age, wasting time and effort here. If you are not sure about a rule, ask the civil service administrator or human resources clerks; do not try to be slick or assume. 

When you inquire about an application or read about it, you will have questions, so ask them first! For instance, some departments will not speak to a military service member without a DD Form 214 (discharge paper) in your hot hands. This is because if an agency starts you in the hiring process and then you get involuntarily extended, going through the process has been a waste of taxpayers' money. Another example is a college requirement. If the announcement states you must have at least an associate degree, then you must have it. Do not waste time if you do not meet the requirements.

It's a Process

One thing that is frustrating to Michelle and her colleagues nationwide is when applicants ask questions about timelines. One young man called and needed instantaneous employment; we had to explain that this is a hiring process. The application is the first step, then written tests, and so forth. One step is dependent upon the previous step. There are no promises. Ask about the process and follow it.

I had one applicant who stated that he was going to be on his honeymoon the week of the physical agility and wanted to know if he could he take it later—No. Point here is that agencies set these tests up for their staffing and needs, not your nuptials.

Most agencies will give you the state certifying authority Websites for the state requirements. I strongly recommend you visit the Website(s) and ensure you meet your respective state's requirements. Unfortunately, I have seen some candidates that started the process but were removed due to medical requirements. Corrected/uncorrected vision is one that catches many; read the requirements. Without going into too much detail, each state is different in sight, hearing, and physical standards. Not to mention the psychological requirements. Make yourself very familiar here.

I am not here to frighten off any possible recruits. Hey, we need you! But it is your responsibility to fully read the job requirements, become familiar with the application process, and apply them to your situation. It costs a department hundreds of taxpayer dollars to process a police applicant. Maybe it is the frugal side of me, but I don't want to waste the money or your time.

Train Hard and Train Smart.

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