Police invite civilians to interview candidates

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police are looking to hire new officers, but for the first time, community members will have a say in who gets a job.

As part of a new initiative, Pittsburgh Police put out a call for volunteers last week to increase the number of civilian community members taking part in the oral board portion of the hiring process, one of the first assessments for candidates. The initiative is meant to increase community policing, Jennifer Ford, a commander for the police who is overseeing the program, said. Volunteers will interview potential candidates between July 21-30, joining officers to conduct the interviews. The candidates whom the police and volunteers are interviewing are expected to join the force next March if hired.

“Other cities have done [this] and we wanted to give community members a say in hiring police,” Ford said Tuesday.

Ford said the police wanted to bring volunteers into interviews back in 2011, but later decided against it. After he was sworn in last December, Police Chief Cameron McLay called for more community policing. In an email to the police force in January, McLay explained that community-oriented policing is essential to cutting down on police violence.

“We have an administration that’s open to it,” Ford said.

From now on, Ford said, the police will ask civilians to volunteer for interviews in each round of hiring, about every 18 months. Before the interviews, both the civilian volunteers and the other police who will sit on the oral board will undergo a training session for what they should expect and evaluate and what questions they should ask.

Police presented the plan at an Oakwatch meeting last week, according to Wanda Wilson, director of Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, but the police are no longer accepting applications, Ford said.


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