(Feb. 21, 2014) Gearing up for the summer season, the Ocean City Police Department has tested its highest-ever number of applicants for seasonal and potentially full-time officer positions.
OCPD Capt. Greg Guiton said at last week’s police commission meeting that the department has tested 646 officer applicants since this past summer, up from 574 last off-season. Even more applicants would’ve been included if not for weather.
“That affected us tremendously this year,” Guiton said. “Since a lot of our applicants are in college, we had several schools that pushed their exam dates back because of weather, so they had exams on our testing dates.”
Of those applicants, 356 were eligible for hiring. Many applicants are disqualified after a background check due to previous arrests or other issues. More are disqualified on testing day after failing the written exam and physical fitness test that the department requires before recruits can even go the academy.
“That’s about what you’ll find in most police agencies around the county, it’s about a 50 percent failure rate before they’re in the door,” Guiton said.
The OCPD hires 110 seasonal officers each year, which nearly doubles the force for the intense summer months. Guiton said that 28 of those slots are expected to be filled by returning officers who have already done summer stints.
Although the jobs are temporary, summer officers are put through the same training as full-time rookies, and are eligible for full-time employment if they desire it.
“Thirty years ago, you might have been able to do things a bit differently, but the expectation these days is that even the seasonal officers are fully qualified,” Guiton said.
Although the majority of recruits will graduate from training at the end of May, the department encourages summer officers to take advantage of an earlier academy that puts them on the force at the beginning of the month, if their schedules allow.
“There’s a comfort zone thing,” Guiton said. “It’s good for them to have a few weeks in May to get out there and get used to it.”
Although the department makes an effort to market to the widest possible audience, Guiton said, the recruits’ makeup remains largely white and male. Women made up 16 percent of this year’s applicant pool, and 15 percent were non-Caucasian.
The OCPD is the state’s only police force authorized to hire seasonal employees who are fully-sworn officers. The department also plans to hire 40 Public Safety Aides for the summer, who do not have the power of arrest but can issue parking tickets and perform other ancillary duties.