New police application requirements expand pool of potential candidates

Change gives weight to employment outside law enforcement

COVINGTON, Ky. – Hoping to expand the pool of candidates eligible to become police officers, Covington leaders have tweaked the application requirements to give weight to continuous employment in areas unrelated to law enforcement.

The Covington Board of Commissioners recently approved a change that would allow someone with a work history of two years to apply to become a police officer. Previously applicants had to have served with another police department or in the military or have had a certain number of college credit hours (which was also changed to add flexibility).

Going forward, then, an applicant must meet one or more of these standards:

  • Have obtained an associate degree from an accredited college or university, or equivalent hours while working toward a bachelor’s degree with an average grade of “C” or above.
  • Have an established work history of a minimum of two years.
  • Have a minimum of 24 months of continuous active duty in the regular military service with an honorable discharge.
  • Or have a minimum of two years of full-time continuous employment as a municipal, county or state police officer.

Covington Assistant Chief of Police Justin Wietholter said that Covington – like police departments across Kentucky and the nation – was taking steps to address ongoing recruitment and retention challenges. Among those has been attending more hiring fairs and more aggressive marketing.

“From some of the data we’ve collected, it appears there is a pool of potential candidates who would be good candidates on whom we’re missing out,” Wietholter told the Commission. “We found out there’s a lot of potential candidates that have established work history but might not have the required college hours, so this gives us another avenue to improve hiring by enabling us to reach a larger number of qualified and capable candidates to serve the City.”

Commissioner Ron Washington – a former police officer and chief deputy in the Sheriff’s office – saluted police leaders’ “creative” mindset.

The mandated college requirement “on the surface sounds pretty good, but there’s a type of employee that we’re missing,” Washington said. “Let’s say there’s a young man or young woman who works at Hotel Covington, they’re from our community, and they’ve lived here all their lives and they know everybody. They’re a good person, and they have good employment history for two years. That actually makes a pretty good police officer, and we’re missing out on that individual.”

Nationwide challenge

In a 2021 Police Executive Research Forum survey on Police Workforce trends, researchers found that increases in resignations increased in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20, and increases in police retirements were even larger, seeing a 45% increase in the retirement rate.

Open positions

The Covington Police Department is currently hiring cadets and full-fledged officers, and details of the current openings can be found on the Police Department’s employment page

Officials say a job with CPD has a lot going for it, including competitive wages and benefits, the department’s strong reputation, a mission that gives officers a chance to help people and the community, an array of potential specialty roles, and an active environment.

In short, the job of a Covington police officer is never dull and, as one of the largest municipal agencies in Kentucky, Covington is a full-service department that boasts:

  • A strong array of benefits, including health care and college tuition reimbursement.
  • Opportunity to grow into positions that feature a wide array of exciting specialty roles and responsibilities, including detective, accident reconstruction expert, SWAT team member, K-9 handler, narcotics investigator, training officer, and bike officer.
  • A strong relationship with the community, given its commitment to neighborhood outreach and partnership with organizations on a daily basis.
  • A strong foundation of professionalism, it being one of those rare agencies in Kentucky that is accredited by both the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police and the international Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (with CALEA often called the “gold standard” for accrediting law enforcement).

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