Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has announced changes to the process for recruiting police, fire, and EMS, including an increase in the maximum age for new hires.
As of Monday, the maximum age to be hired as a police officer is up from 35 to 40, while the max age to be hired as a firefighters is now 35, up from 31. Also on Monday, thanks to funding from Issue 4, the Akron Police Department is able to host an in-house police academy, opposed to farming out the academy to other departments, including Columbus, as they've done since 2008.
The minimum wage for new recruits has gone up to $26.22 per hour, according to the press release (read below), thus making the job more attractive to young and older cadets.
Akron, Ohio, February 4, 2019 – Today, Mayor Horrigan is announcing several changes to the process for recruiting police officers and firefighter/medics, including increasing the maximum age for new hires and bringing the police academy back in-house.
“As a city, we are competing for qualified candidates for public safety positions, and I am committed to attracting and retaining the most qualified, diverse, and dedicated personnel to Akron,” Mayor Horrigan said. “These changes are designed to widen and deepen the pool of potential candidates and make the process more accessible.”
First, the Department of Human Resources will be increasing the maximum hiring age for an Akron police officer to 40 years of age (from 35), and the maximum hiring age for an Akron firefighter/medic to 35 years of age (from 31).
“Expanding the age range for qualified candidates will help us recruit individuals who may be pursuing a second career or who have recently retired from the military,” Akron Police Chief Ken Ball said. “More mature applicants are likely to have an increased sense of purpose, greater life experiences and deeper community ties that can help them succeed in serving our neighborhoods.”
In addition to expanding eligibility, the City will once again be hosting a Peace Officer Basic Training Academy for new police recruits.
Due to funding restraints, the City stopped holding an internal police academy in 2008. Instead, for several years the City sent new recruits to Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) academies hosted by other agencies. New recruits would not be formally hired or receive a paycheck from the City until after they graduated with their OPOTA certification (approximately 24 weeks). The financial burden of this unpaid training period discouraged or prevented some recruits from pursuing a career as an Akron police officer.
“We knew that a lack of an internal police academy was negatively impacting our ability to recruit qualified, diverse candidates,” Mayor Horrigan said. “We knew we had to do something. Thankfully, the funds provided by Issue 4 will help us once again host a police academy and compensate our new recruits appropriately.” Now, new APD recruits will be hired by the City and paid a starting wage of $26.22/hour from the first day of the training academy.
The next entrance exam for Akron police officers is slated for April 2019. The next entrance exam for Akron firefighters will likely be held this fall.
“Making these changes demonstrates that we are serious about building public safety forces that better reflect the diversity of our community,” Council President Margo Sommerville said. “I look forward to working with the administration to continue to improve our recruiting strategies and policies to compete for the best candidates available.”