By Jessica Cohen
For the Gazette (Times Herald-Record 06/19/2020)
PORT JERVIS – Bringing diversity – more skin colors and ethnicities – to the Port Jervis Police Department is a goal that Police Chief Bill Worden has been working on for a while. He has pursued an elaborate strategy that he described on the eve of the Black Lives Matter March in Port Jervis. “The recruitment effort was conducted throughout May, June and July of 2019,” Worden said.
A media consultant, Niki Jones, was hired, and a social media campaign, using Google analytics, targeted areas where residents were eligible to take the Port Jervis Police Department civil service exam. That included adjacent Pike and Sussex counties, as well as Orange, Sullivan, Dutchess, Ulster, Westchester and Rockland counties. They targeted the eligible age group, 19½ to 34.
“The analytics allowed the department to track the number of views of our advertisements, the number of clicks and the number of downloads for examination materials and civil service applications,” Worden said.
In addition to social media missives, the police department sent teams of “outreach officers” to meet with representatives of relevant groups around the county and provide them with brochures created by the department administrative assistant, plus civil service exam information and applications. Officers also worked with the Orange County Department of Personnel to recruit at county events in Goshen, New Windsor and the Town of Wallkill.
Meanwhile, Worden said, “Our department sent emails to hundreds of community contacts and distribution lists throughout the region.”
Those included nonprofit organizations, the New York Civil Liberties Union White Plains Office, SUNY Orange Career Development and Diversity Office, YWCA Racial Justice, RECAP, Sullivan County NAACP and the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation.
The result of these efforts was that in September more than 200 people applied to take the civil service exam. Worden recalled how Cheryl Kent Biccum, the civil service secretary who administered the examination and assisted with the recruitment process, said that they were the largest and most diverse group of applicants for the police officer examination she had encountered. Exam grades came out in early 2020, but the required physical agility tests were postponed as a health precaution because of the pandemic. They are now being rescheduled, Worden said.
“Once that phase of the examination process is complete, we will have a certified civil service list from which to select candidates for future vacancies,” he said. “We usually have a standing list that is valid for three to four years, since the process of creating a civil list is quite lengthy. We have a vacancy currently and will have several vacancies in the near future. We await final results of the civil service test to receive an eligibility list. Hiring also tends to follow the police academy schedules.”