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Making Police Jobs Attractive

Jefferson County may have one of the highest unemployment rates in Ohio, at 6.1% in September, but finding good people to hire still can be a challenge for employers. Just ask the Steubenville Police Department.

In August, city officials gave written and physical tests to 10 applicants for entry-level jobs in the police department. Just two of the 10 passed. Even assuming they get through the background checks, psychological tests, polygraphs and drug and alcohol screenings, two is not much of a pool of candidates from which to hire.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis has said officials plan to administer another test — but with some changes. One will be giving applicants credit for military service, which makes a lot of sense.

Applicants who passed the August tests will remain in the group of potential new officers, but results of the new test will add more people to the group, Mavromatis hopes.

Precisely what changes will be made in the hiring test is uncertain, with the exception of credit for military service. Any amendments to the process will have to be approved by the municipal Civil Service Commission.

Difficulty in finding good applicants for the police force is nothing new. It has been a concern for some time.

Obviously, city officials can alter the hiring process only so much before they begin diluting the quality of those who pass the various tests and screenings. Mavromatis and others are well aware that changes actually decreasing the quality of new police recruits must be approached with caution. There is an applicant quality floor below which hiring someone can create more problems than it solves.

City officials may need to consider other steps to make police service more attractive. Yes, that may mean higher salaries. If so, such action should be given serious consideration. Steubenville residents need to be able to rely on a police force capable of serving and protecting.

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