New Ordinance in Ship Bottom Sets Requirements for Internal Promotion to Police Chief

Current Law Enforcement Lead Expected to Retire in 2020
By Gina G. Scala | Dec 04, 2019
Courtesy of: Ship Bottom Police Department

Ship Bottom — The Ship Bottom Borough Council unanimously adopted an ordinance establishing an internal promotional process and procedure for the police chief position ahead of the pending retirement of its current chief. Police Chief Paul Sharkey has put in his retirement papers and is expected to retire from his post sometime in the next year, according to Kathleen Flanagan, borough coordinator.

“We need a policy in place,” she said Nov. 26 when the ordinance came up for second reading and a public hearing. No one spoke on the matter.

Ordinance 2019-24, which was first introduced Oct. 22, is in line with state statute that permits the borough to promote from within its own ranks. If two candidates have equal rank, following the eligibility requirements, consideration will be given to the candidate with the most seniority in service, or a resident over a nonresident, according to the measure.

It also sets in place what the promotion process will entail, including its basis on merit, experience, education, demonstrated ability, competitive examinations and competitive written submissions.

The borough’s public safety committee must provide 30 days’ notice of the promotional process to the department before any written exam can be given. The announcement will be posted in common spaces of the department and be accessible to everyone. It will include such information as rank to be filled, exam dates, source materials or reading lists, among other items.

For those officers who qualify, they must notify the public safety committee of their interest in writing, no later than seven days prior to the start of the promotional process.

“Failure to do so shall render the officer ineligible to participate in the process,” according to the measure, which also establishes the testing procedure for promotion to police chief, including a written test, an oral exam, a psychological evaluation, a record review and an interview with the mayor and public safety committee.

Under the ordinance, the mayor and council reserve the right to waive the written and/or oral exam. Applicants will be noticed of that decision at the time of the initial announcement for the promotional process is posted.

An applicant must have served as a police officer in the borough for a period of 10 years or more. They must have a four-year college degree or 128 credits. Full-time police officers working for the borough before Jan. 1, 2019, are exempt from the college degree or credit equivalent requirement, according to the measure.

An outside agency, such as the state Chiefs of Police Association or the International Chief of Police Association, will administer the written and oral exams. A candidate cannot score lower than 70 percent in the written portion of the exam. Any applicant who does not pass the written exam will be notified by the current police chief, in writing, within seven days.

For the oral exam, all applicants will answer the same questions in front of the same panel of examiners unless unusual or emergent circumstances arise.

“None of the evaluators shall be an officer, employee, resident, or relative thereof, of the borough of Ship Bottom,” the ordinance reads.

Qualifying applicants after the oral exams will be notified of their score and the next phase of the process, according to Ordinance 2019-24.

“The chief of police shall make his recommendation for promotion to the mayor and public safety committee based on the service record review. The correspondence may include justification to support the recommendation,” according to the measure.

Under the ordinance, any applicant who is promoted to police chief will serve a one-year probationary term from the date of the appointment.

Ordinance 2019-24 also sets in place the recommendation for promotion, other than for the rank of police chief, by permitting the police chief to make a recommendation to the mayor and council based on overall process.

“Review of test scores, interview results, and/or Chief’s recommendation must occur within five days of the announcement of the promotion of the candidate. The candidates may only review their own results,” according to the measure.

Passing test scores will be considered good only through a specific period of time, determined by the mayor and council, the ordinance reads in part.

— Gina G. Scala

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