Personnel Problem at Kitsap County Sheriff's Office

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Personnel Problem at Kitsap County Sheriff's Office

The Kitsap County Sheriff's office, with 110 sworn deputies, is responsible for the public safety of 230,000 citizens. Kitsap County is located about 6 miles west of Seattle across the Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula, and comprises about 393 square miles. The sheriff's office began with the election of the first sheriff in the late 1850s. The Sheriff is still elected and appoints the Undersheriff, the Chief of Patrol, the Chief of Detectives, the Chief of Corrections, and the Chief Civil Deputy. There are two lieutenants and thirteen sergeants, all filling career Civil Service positions. To become a deputy sheriff, you must:
· Pass a Civil Service entrance examination (written and physical agility)
· Be a citizen of the United States
· Have completed two years of accredited college
· Pass a medical, psychological, and polygraph examination, and a complete background investigation
· Be at least 21 years of age
· Possess a valid Washington State driver's license
· Have no felony convictions
The Kitsap County Sheriff's office is accredited through the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC). For this accreditation, the agency goes through an evaluation every four years and must meet a set of standards that are higher than the industry norm.
The Processes: The sheriff's office falls under county government. The agency that handles most personnel/human resource management (P/HRM) issues is the County Personnel Office (CPO). The CPO plays a key role in collective bargaining for the county with the various guilds/unions, and they are also involved in grievance issues concerning EEO complaints (workplace harassment, discrimination, unfair labor practices, etc.) The CPO is also responsible for the hiring and promotion processes for all career Civil Service positions in county level employment.
During the deputy sheriff hiring process, you must submit an application to the CPO. Once they review the application and determine you have met the minimum requirements, you are allowed to attend the written examination. The top 40 applicants are then asked to attend a physical agility test, and top 25 at the end of the physical agility test are placed on a civil service register to be hired from.
When a vacancy in the sheriff's office comes up, the top three names from the register are sent over for the sheriff's office to conduct interviews, background investigations, and the medical, psychological and polygraph exams. The sheriff's office doesn't become involved in the hiring process until after the written exam and physical agility test have been completed, and names have been received from the register.

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"Personnel Problem at Kitsap County Sheriff's Office." 22 Jun 2018
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Currently, the physical agility test conducted by the CPO consists of three portions:
· A 440 meter run with maximum time of 90 seconds
· 26 sit-ups in one minute
· Running 50 feet to a 165 pound dummy, and then dragging the dummy back the 50 feet all in 30 seconds.
Once hired, an employee must attend a state mandated law enforcement academy. To gain entry into this mandated academy, an employee must pass a Fitness Ability Test (FAT) conducted by the Basic Law Enforcement Academy. This FAT consists of:
· A 300 meter run in 62.5 seconds
· A vertical jump reaching 17 inches
· 28 push-ups (male style -- legs extended, not on knees)
· 34 sit-ups in one minute
· 1 1/2 mile run/walk in 14:02 minutes.

The Outcomes: The physical agility test used by the CPO is a much lower standard than the test required to enter the state law enforcement academy. Most law enforcement agencies in Washington use either the academy test, or they have developed a test that is even a higher standard than the academy test. At these agencies, when an applicant is hired, it has already been shown that the applicant can pass the academy test.
For my agency, an applicant must meet one standard to be hired, and then the new employee must meet another (higher) standard to enter the state mandated academy. Because the CPO refuses to use the state standard, there is a burden placed on the sheriff's office to ensure that new employees can get into the academy. The Training Coordinator for the sheriff's office must set up time for the new employee to practice or train specifically for the academy test. This adds time to the entire training process, thus delaying the time it takes to get the deputy trained and out in the field. Also, if the employee cannot meet the academy standard, then the employee goes through remedial training and is given 2 more attempts to pass the FAT. If the employee fails the third attempt, the employee is terminated. In the mean time, the sheriff's office has used a large amount of man-hours and other expenses conducting background investigations and the other examinations in the hiring process, as well as training the person for the FAT. These funds come from the sheriff's office budget, not the CPO budget. Though it doesn't happen often where an employee is terminated for failure to meet the academy standard, it does happen enough and has a very real impact on the sheriff's office.

Recommendations: A package has been put together by the sheriff's office training coordinator to submit to the CPO explaining in detail what the academy FAT is and how it evaluates an applicants physical abilities. In this package is a proposal that the CPO continue to proctor the written examination. Being the sheriff's office personnel are very familiar with the academy test, the sheriff's office will then conduct the physical agility test on applicants, using the same FAT that the academy uses. A member of the CPO could be on scene as an observer. Under this process, the CPO can ensure that proper hiring practices are maintained while allowing the resident experts to conduct and evaluate the physical agility portion of the examination. This will allow the sheriff's office to hire personnel who already meet the minimum standard for entry into the state academy. It is recommended the CPO accept the proposed package or at least discontinue use of the current physical agility test and adopt the FAT.

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