over Township is a community with 95,000 population, 158 sworn police officers, and 117 civilian police employees. The police department has an established history for requiring college education dating back to 1978, when it required all new officers to have associate's degrees. In 1994 the police department required a four-year degree for all new hires, and since then the department has had a surplus of well-qualified applicants who have the required bachelor's degree, and many of the officers have graduate degrees.
The hiring regulations permit applicants to substitute two years of police experience or two years of military service for two years of college. Even with this flexibility, most new hires have a bachelor or higher degree.
There is extensive recruitment on college campuses, including Rutgers, the largest university in the area. Recruiting also includes advertising in local newspapers, on the radio and local cable television, and on the department's Web site. As noted in the benchmark study conducted in North Carolina by Douglas Yearwood and Stephanie Freeman,19 the word-of-mouth recruiting by current officers is important in any successful effort. In Dover, it has been found that many applicants are from other departments seeking the opportunity to work in the professional atmosphere of a department where all officers are college graduates.
The department does not have a residency requirement. The applicant written test is given once every three years, and the resulting list is good for three years following. For a typical three-year exam cycle, Dover will have about 450 applicants, and from that base about 150 pass the written exam with a score of 80 percent or higher. Of these, some will fail either the swimming or the physical agility tests.
The remaining applicants are scheduled for an oral interview board. The final selection scoring is weighted with 30 percent for the written examination and 70 percent for oral interview. Around 30 officers reach this stage in a typical cycle, and many will have graduate degrees. It should be noted that about 50 percent of the applicants successfully completing Dover's process will be hired by other departments because these highly qualified applicants have many opportunities before them, and they will have applied to other departments that may have an opening first.
A benefit noted by Dover is that qualified officer who can handle the complex issues of today is acquired through this process. There are also fewer discipline issues with the college-educated officers, and the justification for competitive salaries is established by the high quality of service provided. ■
19 Douglas L. Yearwood and Stephanie Freeman, "Analyzing Concerns among Police Administrations: Recruitment and Retention of Police Officers in North Carolina," The Police Chief 71 (March 2004): 43-49.