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Jackson amends requirements to attract more police applicants

By ALEX BELD

abeld@conleynet.com 262-306-5046

In the last Police & Fire Commission meeting for the village of Jackson, Chief of Police Jed Dolnick requested that the minimum qualifications for the position of police officer be amended to attract more candidates.

The change allows the department to accept candidates who haven’t attended the 18-week basic recruit training at their own expense. All other standards remain the same.

“The state pays the tuition if we send a recruit,” Dolnick said. “Finalists will have gone through written exams, interviews, an extensivebackground investigation, and psychological, medical, and drug screenings. The new officer won’t work alone until successfully completing 12 weeks of field training.”

In 2013, the department had 93 applicants for an opening, but this year there were only 12 for an opening at the department.

“This is a statewide problem,” Dolnick said. “Some departments have gotten so desperate that they’re offering lateral benefits to ‘cannibalize’ officers from other agencies. Act 10reduced benefits, making it harder to compete with jobs in which you’re not required to work holidays, overnight, and weekends, in potentially dangerous situations.”

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is working to hire new deputies and has the option of hiring non-certified candidates and sponsoring them through the Basic Law Enforcement Training, which lasts 720 hours. This is a similar offering to what Dolnick requested last month.

Sheriff Dale Schmidt said, “We’ve continuously had applications for all those positions (deputies, corrections officers and dispatch offers), but we have tobe much more careful with the positions, making sure they’re meeting the standards we’re looking for.”

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Schmidt said he’s noticed the shift work asked of by law enforcement officers can be a deterrent for some who may not want to work nights, weekends or holidays. He added the community in the county is, however, supportive.

Another challenge can be competing with private sector job offerings, according to Schmidt.

In an effort to remain competitive, Schmidt has worked with the Washington County Board of Supervisors to keep pay and benefits competitive.

“I think they’ve been responsive to that,” Schmidt said. He added that the department has also seen an increase in the hiring of experienced applicants from other agencies in the past few years.

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