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Police hire new officers after extensive process

September 30, 2010

The hiring process of a new university police officer is a tiresome and particular task, said Chief of Police Richard Trende.

The search for and hiring of new University Police officers is a task that few fully comprehend, Trende said.

The newest addition to the expanding police force on campus is Patricia Forsberg, who was hired as a full time officer on Sept. 16.

Forsberg said that the completion of training is something that all applicants must go through.

“The training is 520 hours,” said Forsberg. “That is the Wisconsin state standard for a law enforcement officer.”

Forsberg said that during the 520 hours of training, trainees receive a certain amount of time dedicated to various law enforcement tasks and abilities.

“Within those hours, you get so many hours of emergency vehicle operations training,” said Forsberg. “So many hours of fire arms and another so many hours of defense and arrest tactics.”

All that training only happens if the officer first passes the interview process.

“In the hiring process, it all begins with an online exam,” Trende said. “The top candidates from that exam are then invited to an interview.”

Trende said that candidates who make it through the initial interview become subject to a series of more extensive interviews, conducted by panels of law enforcement in the River Falls area.

“The first round is a committee that has been gathered by the law enforcement community,” Trende said. “That committee narrows down that group to a final group, which leads to my final interview process.”

In the end, barring interview success, the candidates are recommended to the human resources department on campus.

“After I make the final recommendation for a potential employee, I then send my evaluations to the human resources department,” Trende said.

Trende said that the human resources department verifies the interview process, looking to make sure that the selection of a candidate was done so fairly.

“Once that process is complete, a tentative offer is made,” Trende said. “Once that offer is made, then a background check is done both by human resources and by this department.”

UWRF Human Resources Manager Deb Schwab said that it is the duty of her office to ensure fairness in the interview process.

“We are required by state statute to make sure that there was no bias or discrimination in the interview process,” Schwab said.

Schwab said that the human resources department forms and conducts an exam that all potential applicants must take and achieve a minimum score on.

“All of the potential employees must complete the exam, which is generally administered online,” Schwab said. “A minimum passing score is 70 percent.”

The score that applicants complete is essential to the continuation of the hiring process, Schwab said.

“That score that they get is turned into a civil service score,” Schwab said. “That is sort of the benchmark for the rest of their process.”

“The score does not mean you have a job,” Schwab said. “It means that you have a better chance at an interview with a panel, a panel that does not see the score.”

Score aside, Schwab said that Trende takes a careful look at each resume and assesses what he is looking for in an officer.

“He will actually sit down with the resume and look over it however many times he feels necessary,” Schwab said. “He needs to see who or what he thinks is the best fit for the position.”

Forsberg said the panels concentrate on settings you could find yourself in while on the job.

“The panels that do the interviewing kind of pin-point on how you deal with the surroundings on campus, because of the fact that the majority of the people we deal with are 18 to 24 years of age,” Forsberg said.

One thing is clear; a potential officer needs to be able to relate to the community while maintaining a level of professionalism. As Trende explains, these things along with the resume and interview process ultimately determine the hiring of an officer.

“You need to be able to perform the physical tasks that come with the pursuit of a person, as well as have a competency in Wisconsin law,” Trende said. “We identify what the job is, and what the actions are that may be required to perform that job.”