Civil Service Board Certifies Police Candidates

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – A list of three best-qualified patrol officer candidates interested in working for the Lower Pottsgrove Police Department, chosen from among 21 prospects who initially registered for its testing process, was unanimously certified Tuesday (Aug. 9, 2022) by township Civil Service Commission members during an afternoon meeting.

Using the now-available list, police Chief Rick Bell said he would soon begin discussions with the township Board of Commissioners for its permission to make a conditional offer of employment to one of the three. The department is currently short-staffed, he noted, due to an unfilled vacancy left by the April departure of an officer for a similar position in Chester County.

Bell said he hopes a new candidate could receive an employment offer, successfully complete remaining psychological and physical exams, and take his or her oath of office by September.

Looking ahead, the commission also unanimously agreed to explore possible changes to township civil service regulations that Bell suggested seemed to impede the department’s ability to compete in making employment offers. The certified list could have contained additional names, he indicated, but they withdrew their candidacies after having accepted offers from other departments.

The changes Bell hopes to propose would need to be legally vetted by the commission’s solicitor, and possibly by the township solicitor as well. Both municipal bodies also would be required to approve the revisions. All of that, according to township Commissioner Ray Lopez – who also serves as an alternate member of the Civil Service Commission – may take considerable time.

Candidate pools getting smaller

Both Bell and Civil Service Commission Vice Chairman Jacob Dailey observed that increasingly smaller pools of candidates are turning out for testing. Bell acknowledged it was a problem faced not only by Lower Pottsgrove but also by departments across the state. “It doesn’t seem as though as many people want to get into law enforcement as in the past,” he conceded. “Those days seem over and done with.”

A secondary problem, the chief noted, was that fewer of those who initially applied for testing made it through the pipeline for potential qualification. Of 21 people who submitted applications to take township tests, two withdrew their names before the test was administered. Among the 19 remaining, only 16 arrived on the appointed date to be tested.

Four of the 16 failed agility exams administered during the same day, shortly after the written test. Of the resulting 12, “several were lost” because they “did not meet department standards” in personal background checks, and others had already obtained jobs.

Ultimately, the three certified Tuesday were the only candidates remaining who met standards enabling them to take polygraph tests. They were administered during the past two weeks, Bell reported. “Fortunately,” Bell added, “I’m real comfortable” with any of the certified candidates as potential officers.

Photo by The Post