Saturday’s Police Applicant Tests Came with a Twist

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – A group of applicants, each of them interested in becoming the next individual to take his or her oath as an officer of the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department, were welcomed to the township Saturday for not just one qualifying test, but two.

In what is considered a first for the department, the township presented its written test for applicants on policing and law enforcement knowledge during a morning session at Pottsgrove High School, and its physical fitness and agility test at the school track and athletic fields shortly afterward.

In the past, like many other departments, the township waited for results of the knowledge exam before separately planning the fitness component later by a week or more. Police Chief Richard Bell didn’t see any need for a delay, he recently explained to the township Civil Service Commission. It supervises the tests and, from their results, certifies a list of possible winning candidates considered worthy of employment.

The candidates represented an audience the township wanted to impress, in part because other municipalities are competing for the same talent. Why not demonstrate both the efficiency of its process, and the department’s ability to save time?, Bell suggested. The bonus: eliminating the wait also allowed the township to more quickly certify a list, he said, and tender a conditional job offer.

Commission members readily agreed, and praised Bell for the idea. Several also were on hand to greet candidates as they arrived and thanked them for considering the township force as a future employer. Twenty-one submitted test applications. For those who satisfactorily pass both tests, oral interviews with department representatives will be the next step.

Some of those tested even met current members of the force before they ever put pencils to paper. That’s because Bell recruited officers from the township contingent to visit police academies across Montgomery and adjacent counties to talk about their experiences working in Lower Pottsgrove. A few, but not all, academies permitted short visits. The department also spread the word about its exam date through the state Police Chiefs Association and regional advertising.

The intent of the marketing campaign, Bell said, was to “give a face to the department” for applicants. Although he and the commission had hoped for more entrants, Bell said he was pleased “that we had a pretty good pool going in.”

Photo by The Post