• July 29, 2014

Killeen expecting big class for June police academy

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Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:09 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

They don't get a high-flying cape and can't climb walls in a single bound, but that has not kept twice as many people from wanting to be a crime fighter.

Killeen police received double the applications for the March test than in January. Many jobseekers are considering law enforcement for job security and solid benefits during the economic downturn, Sgt. Rick Hatfield, recruiting coordinator, said.

Approximately 155 applicants were slotted to attend KPD's civil service test at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center Saturday. In January, 76 applicants attended.

The applicants come for myriad reasons, some were laid off recently, others left overseas contracting positions hoping for job security in the U.S. or some seek a career change with higher pay.

Killeen hopes to fill 23 more slots for the June academy, double the January academy, which had 20 participants.

Hatfield filled 20 June academy slots during the January hiring phase, including four who arrived with prior experience and went straight to field training.

"The June academy could be huge," Hatfield said. "Sixteen is usually what we get after two tests."

KPD advertised in newspapers, over the radio and online, as usual, but did not expect this many jobseekers, Hatfield said.

KPD needs the applicants because one out of 10 survives the extensive hiring process.

Applicants must pass a civil service test, physical fitness tests, a personal history statement, a background check, an oral interview, a polygraph, and psychological evaluations in writing and with a doctor.

More applicants means more choices. Options are important because not all applicants will choose KPD. Killeen competes against the higher salaries and catchy allure of big-city departments, especially for Fort Hood soldiers.

Police agencies from Lubbock, Dallas, Austin, Tuscon, Ariz., and Las Vegas will recruit soldiers at job fairs. The Abilene PD posted a billboard recruiting sign on Fort Hood Street near Veterans Memorial Boulevard in February.

Competing depends on several factors including cheaper cost of living in Killeen, whether applicants have families settled and a home purchase.

Harker Heights police received 150 applications for five positions, a "modest increase," Chief Mike Gentry said.

More people applied, but some applied for the sake of applying.

"We find people that really haven't even considered a law enforcement profession until the economy stimulated them to think of a career change," he said.

Temple police have not received an increase in applications, Sgt. Brad Hunt said.

Contact Victor O'Brien at vobrien@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468.

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