Chicopee could withdraw police and fire departments from state Civil Service system

Discussion in 'New England Area Law Enforcement' started by LGriffin, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. LGriffin

    LGriffin Supporting Member

    Last week’s retirement of the police chief could spark an effort to remove the police and fire departments from the state’s Civil Service system.

    “Change is always difficult but we have to understand when something has outlived its usefulness. We need to move forward,” Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette said. “It duplicates a lot of protections that exist and adds one more bureaucratic layer.”

    The system, created originally to help protect municipal employees before the days of labor unions, oversees hiring and discipline mostly in police and fire departments.

    When there is a vacancy in a department, Civil Service holds an exam and, using a formula, community leaders then select candidates from the top scorers. Special provisions move people, mainly military veterans, to the top of the list despite the scores.

    It is partly frustration with the cumbersome hiring process that is sparking the consideration. Bissonnette said he has asked for a police chief’s test to be held but the next one is not scheduled until the spring.

    The process is also limiting since test scores are not the only indicator of a candidate’s ability to be a good patrolman or firefighter, he said.

    Removal of Civil Service would need legislative approval.

    “The City Council would have to approve it and the Legislature would have to approve it. I will submit it to the City Council and it will be up to them,” Bissonnette said.

    City Councilor Robert J. Zygarowski, a retired police officer who served as a past president of the patrolmen’s union, said he wants to hear both sides of the proposal.

    “I would like to keep an open mind,” he said. “It has some good values and I have some concerns about losing the protections.”

    John Shea, current president of the Chicopee patrolmen’s union, declined comment saying the union has yet to talk to its lawyers.

    A number of police departments, including those in Springfield and Holyoke, have removed the police commissioner or chief’s position from Civil Service and many small towns never used the system.

    Northampton is one of the rare police departments that has withdrawn from using the Civil Service system entirely. The process, which took two years, was finalized in 2005.

    Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz said there has been some recent interest from department officials who want to withdraw from Civil Service. Recently he has received calls from departments in Palmer, Greenfield and several in eastern Massachusetts.

    He started the effort after getting frustrated with the hiring system. Sienkiewicz said he had to reject too many qualified candidates.

    “It was a crazy way to hire,” he said. “The exam became rote learning, and it cut down a pool of candidates, some of who were already trained and working for a non-civil service department.”

    Now Northampton hires a professional testing agency that gives an entry exam, which includes a writing component, and a mini-assessment center. Candidates are interviewed and their education and job experience are considered, Sienkiewicz said.

    The change allows the department to hire non-residents, which gives them a larger pool of candidates. In the past he was able to hire a Washington state trooper who wanted to move to Massachusetts, as well as police officers from small towns.

    The downside is there is a bigger turnover of officers since some will leave if there is an opening in a department in their hometown, he said...
  2. lofu

    lofu Subscribing Member

    It should be telling that this move always comes from the city or town's side and not the guys/gals at the PD saying "You know what would be a great idea? Leaving Civil Service."
    fra444 and Delta784 like this.
  3. Joel98

    Joel98 MassCops Member

    good for Chicopee
  4. niteowl1970

    niteowl1970 Moderator Staff Member

    Is it ?
  5. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    I thought cities didn't have the ability to remove their PD's and FD's from CS.
  6. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    Add the fact that those already on the PD keep their CS status post-removal.
  7. Delta784

    Delta784 Guest

    Study harder next time.
    daveh, fra444, dave7336 and 1 other person like this.
  8. Delta784

    Delta784 Guest

    Home rule petition.
  9. Joel98

    Joel98 MassCops Member

    I already have a job, I just think Civil Service is an antiquated system, and there needs to be something better....why doesn't MA go to the way almost every other state in the country is, and leave the hiring up to the individual department?
  10. HistoryHound

    HistoryHound Supporting Member

    Seriously? I'm not even a cop and I can tell you why that's a bad idea. Can you say nepotism and favoritism?

    USMCMP5811, frank and fra444 like this.
  11. Joel98

    Joel98 MassCops Member

    I'm being completely serious, just about every other state in the country (excluding MA and NY) leave it up to the individual departments to hire, each department offers its written test, or you submit a resume and interview, and this process works just fine....New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, just to name a few in New England...getting out of New England, you have California, Florida, Arizona, etc...I could go on and on...In CA the LAPD offers its written test every month, you just walk in and take it, and you don't need to wait every two years to take a civil service test.

    This is the reason why cities and towns across MA are becoming frustrated, they have openings but cannot fill them due to Civil Service...Chicopee and Worcester...and you have plenty of towns that opted out, such as Amherst and Northampton.

    Is there favoritism and nepotism? Sure, that exists everywhere, its just a fact of life and is something you will never get away from, Civil Service or not.
  12. HistoryHound

    HistoryHound Supporting Member

    I don't doubt that they do it differently in other places. You seem to forget that those in power in this state bring nepotism and favoritism to a whole new level. If it were an Olympic event, the politically connected in this state would take the Gold with ease. Look, I really don't know who you are. All I can say is if you're using places like Amherst as exemplars to support your opinion, we're probably not going to get along.
    USMCMP5811, fra444 and cc3915 like this.
  13. cc3915

    cc3915 Masscops Angel Staff Member

    Hahahaha! That's good right there.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    fra444 likes this.
  14. Joel98

    Joel98 MassCops Member

    Well that's your prerogative, I'm just pointing out the fact that Amherst is a large town that opted out of CS.
  15. niteowl1970

    niteowl1970 Moderator Staff Member

    The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.
  16. Pvt. Cowboy

    Pvt. Cowboy Lemme take a selfie Staff Member

    HA! I wish it was that easy...
  17. Deuce

    Deuce screw you...

    Civil Service is not the reason why we can't fill our numerous openings. In fact, after the CS exam, there are hundreds in line to fill them. The problem for us is an employing entity that claims they're broke.. Yet spends millions on skating rinks that never appear or pools that the savages just destroy anyway.. Your boat in this argument is sinking...
  18. Joel98

    Joel98 MassCops Member

    My argument is that, under Civil Service, departments have to wait two years for more applicants to come along so they can fill their vacancies.....this is what the article is saying...I'm not knocking anyone's job or department...go talk to the Worcester or Chicopee Chief's, this is why they are frustrated.
  19. Pvt. Cowboy

    Pvt. Cowboy Lemme take a selfie Staff Member

    Why? So I can bitch about my restricted LTC? Not like people get shot around here or anything... :rolleyes:
  20. fra444

    fra444 MassCops Member

    Joel...... Ask an administrator who's hands have been tied and have been restricted from screwing guys they DON'T LIKE?!?! Ask an administrator who got their position THROUGH CS?!?! Yup... I'll get right on that!

    CS has saved employed Officers asses more times then not and it may not be perfect but it's the best we have. No one has to wait 2 years for a list as long as there are interested applicants for that particular shithole. As for other states look at how many guys in other states bounce from job to job...... No thanks, I prefer some security for my family.
    USMCMP5811, Delta784 and cc3915 like this.
  21. Delta784

    Delta784 Guest

    Because even with CS, there is nepotism in would be off the charts without CS.
    USMCMP5811, fra444 and niteowl1970 like this.
  22. lofu

    lofu Subscribing Member

    I don't understand the having to wait 2 years comment. The only time that would happen is while waiting for a politically connected person to get to the right spot on the list. Otherwise the list is good between tests and if they want to hire they just send out cards.
    USMCMP5811 and Delta784 like this.
  23. NorthshoreWannabe

    NorthshoreWannabe "Special" Speller Good Me

  24. Deuce

    Deuce screw you...

    In the last 10 years he's been my chief, I can count the number of times I've been graced by his highness' presence, on one hand.. But sure, if I can manage to get by his knights and guard dogs, I'll ask him if it's really civil service causing our shortage issue. Wait, no, we don't have an issue because whenever we bring up our manning shortage, his majesty just erases our minimum manning needs on the books and writes in what the city manager wants...
  25. OfficerObie59

    OfficerObie59 Public Trough Feeder

    When you get on in your non-civil service PD, just hope the Board of Selectman chair likes the police department.

    Because if he doesn't, during a selectman's meeting he might just back up unsubstatiated allegations of racist comments you were supposed to have made during a traffic stop. And when you find out the selectman has an old legacy warrant yo have to lock him up for, don't be surprised when a friend of his who owns a local newspaper used to spew hatred of you and the rest of the PD.

    If you have no idea what I'm talking about, perhaps you reserve your judgement until you live and learn a little. The fact of the matter is very few MA PD's are having trouble hiring, particulalrly in this job market. And that being the way it is, you'd need connections to ever beat the line in the door.. .kinda like it is now in non-CS municipalities.

    Furthermore, guys like you only ever seem concerned with CS on the hiring end. What's your feeling about CS once the officer is hired?

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