Middletown might change its police hiring rules to make military service, as well as college credits, count in qualifying for the job.
Currently, police officers need to have 60 credits — for an average full-time student, that’s two years of college — to be hired. The proposed new rules would widen the pool to people who have 30 credits, plus either three years of U.S. military service; two years of service in the Military Police or equivalent training; or a New York State Municipal Police Certification.
The change would bring Middletown’s hiring requirements more in line with the state police and some other agencies, said Middletown Police Chief Ramon Bethencourt.
“We’re trying to make our pool larger,” he said. “The other impetus is, we’re hoping it brings, quite frankly, more minorities to the process, and gives us a larger pool of candidates to choose from.”
Common Council President J. Miguel Rodrigues said he backs the change.
“We know that when you go into the military you have some experience,” he said. “You have the background, you know how to shoot a firearm, you know how to be disciplined, you know what chain of command is.”
The next police exam has tentatively been scheduled for May 2014, the first in six years. It remains to be seen how many officers they’ll be hiring after this exam; Bethencourt said he plans to ask for five new officers, as part of the 2014 budget.
Bethencourt said this would help get them closer to previous staffing levels — there are 67 full-time cops now, 10 fewer than 2009. He said he wants to dedicate more officers to community policing and proactive patrols to keep crime down, anti-gang work, and working with Town of Wallkill Police more.
“We want to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.
The city’s Civil Service Commission still needs to approve the changes in qualifications; they’ll likely discuss it at their Oct. 16 meeting. Civil Service Administrator Joe Masi said he plans to recommend that the commission pass it.