Laterals or rookies?
Written by Mark Nichols
If you read American Police Beat, you know that New Jersey is having a hell of a time trying to keep enough cops on the beat to provide service. When one of the most dangerous cities in the nation is talking about laying off half the force you know it's a bad situation. With more budget cuts and layoffs looming on the horizon, Union County Prosecutor Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow is calling into question the hiring decisions made recently by the Township of Springfield regarding the police department.
Springfield's hiring committee recently hired eight police officers. Three of them do not have the necessary training certification. The Township officials claim that the untrained officers bring worthwhile skills and credentials to Springfield.
But Romankow, whose office began overseeing the police force in June due to a deficit of senior officers, believes the township should have hired laid-off officers from other departments who are already certified. But instead of hiring laterals, Romankow said, the township will now be forced to spend roughly $70,000 in salary, benefits and training costs on the three new officers while they train for six months.
"It's a disregard of public funds at a time when budgets are tight," Romankow told the ledger newspaper. Mayor Ziad Andrew Shehady said the decision to hire the officers was based on their credentials and the recommendations of Richard Rosell, the township's public safety director, and Capt. John Cook, the officer in charge of the police division.
The recommendations were based on the applicants military background. Rosell said last week the three non-certified officers were selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants and impressed officials with their decisiveness, command presence and military background.
"We don't look at these people as a quick fix, but as the future of the Springfield police division," the director told reporters. Rosell downplayed any perceived favoritism in selecting his former subordinates. "That's ridiculous," Rosell said. "If I was going to use my influence to help somebody, I would probably help a friend."
Romankow said he wants the township to name Cook as chief, saying he's ready to assume control. But Rosell, who said he wouldn't recommend a candidate before next summer, said Romankow's endorsement wouldn't influence his selection.
Mayor Shehady said the three non-certified officers would be sworn in after the new year in an effort to spread out the hiring costs between two fiscal years. The new officers will start at a salary of roughly $37,000, Shehady added.
Methinks the prosecutor should stick to declining...er, filing cases.
I wish more departments would hire new officers so that some of us could at least have a chance of achieving our dreams of becoming Police Officers. I for one would pay for my own training, but I unfortunately can't quit my job to attend an academy. I wish that some agencies would have a program to hire new potential officers at a lower salary with minimal benefits, and have those potential officers pay their way through the academy.
Then move. There are lots of jobs out there hiring new people and laterals. If this is the job you want, go find it.
What Xiphos said.
Originally Posted by Ryan701
My department has hired nothing but non-certified candidates for 7 out of the last 9 positions we filled. One of the 2 certified officers was from out of state and still had to go through an abbreviated academy.
Hell, we pay to send you through the academy in KY, and my department equips you with everything but underwear and socks. We even buy you new running shoes before you report to Basic. If you really want to be the police, keep an eye out for openings in other areas.
As has been said -- look around, and be willing to relocate. My agency will send you to the academy on full salary and benefits. We've got several openings, too.
As to the general issue of hiring laterals vs new people with no experience... There are pros and cons to both sides. Laterals bring experience -- but about half the laterals we've hired have become problem children because they don't adapt to a different agency or because they're looking to get a paycheck for being retired. At the same time -- we've had some of the same problems with folks hired without experience, too. For an agency that's rebuilding after, say, having half the department fired and/or prosecuted (happened to two that I know of in my area), laterals bring needed experience in quick, but you have to balance them with people who can be groomed and rise up to replace them, since a lateral likely has a shorter career with that agency, having already put in time with another.
I have looked out of state and have even applied at near by states. I have traveled to four different near by states to try and get a position. I have a list of MANY agencies that I look at once a week to see who is hiring. I agree with you that I should move, but I want to make sure that I can make a living before doing so. Thanks for the responses.
Originally Posted by Xiphos
Many agencies will work with you if you are traveling to test and do their process. Call and talk to them.
Originally Posted by Ryan701
That's a good suggestion. I will do that. Thanks.