Police hiring process is too slow, Council member says

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis City Council member expressed frustration Tuesday at the way the city hires new police officers.  Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn said he has been following a police recruit through the city's new hiring process since August 2008.

"We are now in January 2010," Flinn said at a Council committee meeting Tuesday. "This person has done their interview.  They have neither been notified of disqualification or of acceptance to the academy."

The city's Human Resources Director, Lorene Essex, admitted the process has flaws.

"Let me say this: We should have notified them," she said.

Flinn believes good recruits are getting lost in the long wait.  In February of 2008, police handed human resources 811 applications, dating back to 2007.  Essex said they've notified recruits of their status, in the form of a card.

Tuesday, Essex said recruits being hired now applied in 2008.  But the goal is to reduce the hiring process to three months.

"Currently we're at 24 months, so we have a lot of work in this area," Flinn said.

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said there is accountability in the new process.

"If you had a question, you called me.  If I had a question, I called you," he said.

And Godwin said doesn't like taking flak for someone else's decisions.

"You're going to hold this police director responsible for those individuals and I have no input," he said.

Essex said the slow-down is due to considering applications in chronological order.  But Godwin said he ranked recruits by ability over dates, college versus no college, and military versus no military.

"I think we ought to go back to the way we used to do it where the police department hired," City Councilman Jim Strickland said.

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