City of Carbondale Board of Fire and Police Commissioners met April 12.
City of Carbondale Board of Fire and Police Commissioners met April 12.
Here is the minutes provided by the Board:
1. Call to Order / Roll Call
The City of Carbondale Board of Fire and Police Commissioners held a meeting on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at the Carbondale Civic Center, 200 South Illinois Avenue. Chairman Kerry Braswell called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.
Roll Call Present: Don Barrett, Kerry Braswell, Gerald Edwards, Harvey Welch, and Herman Williams
Acknowledgement of Guests
Also present were Deputy City Clerk Clinette Hayes, Deputy Police Chief Stan Reno, Human Resources Manager Tara Brown, and City Clerk Jennifer Sorrell.
2. Approval of meeting minutes from October 5, 2017
Motion: H. Welch moved, G. Edwards seconded, to approve the meeting minutes from October 5, 2017. Vote: All voted Aye. No Nays. Motion declared carried.
3. Election of Board Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson
The Governing Rules of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners provide that a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson be elected in April, to serve for one municipal fiscal year (May 1 through April 30).
Commissioner Don Barrett, who currently serves as Vice-Chairperson, will have an expired term as of May 1, 2018. He has opted not to renew his term as a Commissioner.
Motion: H. Welch moved, H. Williams seconded for Commissioner Kerry Braswell to serve as Chairperson of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. Vote: All voted Aye. No Nays. Motion declared carried.
Motion: K. Braswell moved, H. Welch seconded for Commissioner Gerald Edwards to serve as Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. Vote: All voted Aye. No nays. Motion declared carried.
Commissioners Kerry Braswell and Gerald Edwards will serve as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, respectively, for a term beginning May 1, 2018, through April 30, 2019.
4. Approval of the Annual Report for Calendar Year 2017
Motion: H. Welch moved, H. Williams seconded, to approve the Annual Report for Calendar Year 2017. Vote: All voted Aye. No Nays. Motion declared carried.
5. Closed Meeting to Conduct Oral Interviews for Entry-Level and Lateral-Entry Police Officer
Motion: G. Edwards moved, H. Welch seconded, that the Board hold a closed meeting for the purpose of discussing the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees pursuant to 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1), specifically to conduct oral interviews for Entry-Level and Lateral-Entry Police Officer. Vote: All voted Aye. No Nays. Motion declared carried. Open session recessed at 9:10 a.m.
There was no formal action taken as a result of the closed meeting. There being no further business to come before the Board, G. Edwards moved, H. Welch seconded, that the Board return to open session. Vote: All voted Aye. No nays. Motion declared carried. Open session resumed at 11:52 a.m.
Commissioner Harvey Welch expressed his support for military experience in lieu of education before excusing himself from the meeting at 11:52 p.m.
City Clerk Jennifer Sorrell joined the meeting at 11:55 p.m. A brief five minute break was observed.
6. Discussion of the Application Fee and Writing Proficiency Portion of the Entry-Level Police Officer Examination Process
$15 Application Fee-
The Board discussed the option of keeping or eliminating the $15 application fee for the Entry-Level Police Officer examination. Low attendance from the last few examinations has given reason to believe that the fee may be one of the causes of the decreasing number in applicants. At this point, removing the application fee will not help or harm the process since it is set at a minimal amount. Removing it may serve as an incentive to applicants and increase participation. However, making the examination free of charge may attract applicants who are not necessarily invested in law enforcement. In most cases, a fee may determine the commitment level of an applicant.
The Board agreed that temporarily dropping the application fee for two exam cycles should suffice for now. This will give an opportunity to compile information and statistics to determine if the fee has an effect on the number of police exam participants. After running through two police exam cycles this matter can be revisited for further discussion.
The Board discussed the option of keeping or eliminating the writing proficiency portion of the Entry- Level Police Officer examination. Over the past few testing cycles the writing proficiency exam has been a topic of concern because many candidates are unable to achieve a passing score of 6 or higher.
A handout showing the breakdown of passing and failing candidates for each section of the police examination was distributed to the Board with emphasis on the writing proficiency exam. The handout shows in some testing cycles the candidates had difficulty passing the physical, while in other testing cycles the candidates had difficulty passing the written exam. It is difficult to determine what part of the exam causes the most problems because each pool of candidates is different.
The sequence in which the exams are given may give a false conception of the writing proficiency’s effectiveness. The writing proficiency results take approximately two weeks to receive back from the testing agency. After a candidate has successfully completed all parts of the police examination he or she may still be declared ineligible once those writing proficiency results are received. At this point the number of eligible candidates decreases.
From the point of view from the candidate, it was noted that there may be some pressure on the candidate to complete a writing exercise by hand with a forty minute time limit. Technology has given us many conveniences making anything handwritten almost obsolete. Therefore, it may be somewhat difficult for a candidate to submit a handwritten response especially with a time limit. There was discussion of possibly finding an alternative that can be done online or through the purchase of software.
It was suggested that maybe the minimum passing score of 6 may be too high. Writing samples from randomly selected past candidates were typed out and distributed to the Board with scores ranging from 4 to 7. After reviewing the writing samples it was asked which one would be an acceptable form of writing. At the conclusion of the discussion of the writing samples the consensus was to consider the possibility of lowering the writing proficiency passing score to a 5. It was noted in that discussion that when police officers are writing reports it is the content that is the most important rather than grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. However, since police reports are utilized in a variety of ways, it is very important that police officers are able to convey vital information through written communication.
7. Discussion of Police Officer Recruitment Strategies
With the decline in police examination participation the topic of recruitment has become a concern. A handout was given to the Board that shows the decrease in the number of candidates for each exam cycle from 2011 until recent years. The last three exams has not had more than 20 participating candidates.
The Police Department stated that the focus of their recruiting efforts are usually in the surrounding areas. They frequent job fairs and other events that may generate interest in local law enforcement. In the past they have tried to recruit in larger cities, however it is difficult to convince people to relocate and work in a smaller market. Currently the police examinations are advertised through local newspapers, the City’s website, online job search engines, and social media. Although the tools are being used there is still a low turnout.
City Clerk Jennifer Sorrell exited the meeting at 1:15 p.m.
Other concerns discussed included using social media more effectively, postings on local community boards and announcements, travel limitations, utilizing the City’s Public Relations Officer, conduct examinations offsite in different areas and cities, and reaching out to areas and schools with a predominantly minority population in order to promote diversity. It was also suggested, in order to become more visible to potential candidates, that the Police Department be included with the current marketing efforts for the City of Carbondale as well as be a main feature on the City’s new website to come.
8. Discussion of the Education Requirement for Entry-Level Police Officers
Police Chief Jeff Grubbs has expressed in the past that he would like to see the current education requirement for Entry-Level Police Officer to include military experience in lieu of education.
Items of discussion included how much education should be substituted, how many years of military service should be considered, should deployment be a determining factor, do certain branches of military weigh more than others, and should a candidate’s training in the military be considered more of an asset than just years of service.
Currently the Fire Department utilizes the veterans’ preference points where five points are added to a candidate’s final score after all exams have been completed. Since the Police Department does not operate on a ranking system like the Fire Department, an Entry-Level candidate’s preference points would only be added to his or her written examination (multiple choice) score
Although the Board agrees that candidates should be credited in some way for their military service, they do believe that they need to figure out the right way to approach the subject. There was no consensus made about what direction the Board would like to go on this topic. Further discussion on this matter was suggested.
9. Citizens’ Comments
10. Board Comments
Meeting adjourned at 1:32 p.m.