The North Adams Police Department is moving forward with its own hiring process after it was exempted from the requirements of Civil Service.

The Berkshire Eagle  reports city officials won the support of the City Council to remove the department from Civil Service last September, arguing that it hampered the department's ability to hire new officers.

The city has hired assessment center Public Safety Consultants to conduct an employment test for entry-level police officers on its behalf. "Effectively, we're building a list [of candidates], we just don't have to be as tied to the Civil Service results, so we can put a little bit more discretion" into the hiring process, said Mayor Thomas Bernard.

City officials have assured residents that it can meet — or exceed — the same standards in hiring new police officers as when the department was under Civil Service.

After the initial assessment, much of the hiring process will remain the same.

The new hiring effort comes at a critical time for the department, which currently has four patrol officer positions open in a department of just 25 officers.

In advocating for the change last year, city officials also criticized the way the Civil Service exam emphasizes a multiple-choice test without accounting for other assets such as a background in military service or ability to speak a second language.

Civil Service also provided protections for employees, such as appealing disciplinary action through the Civil Service Commission.

City officials say those protections will still be honored for employees who were hired under Civil Service, and new hires will also be protected under the union's collective bargaining agreement and allowed to appeal to an independent arbitrator.

Public safety is shaping up to be a key focus of the city in 2018, as officials look to address the city's aging public safety building, hire a new police chief, and embark on the hiring of new officers under a different system.

The exam requires an $80 fee and interested candidates can register for the exam at
The test will be given at Drury High School on March 9.

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