ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — While the City of Rochester is preparing for the official confirmation of RPD Chief David Smith, the agency is currently in the hiring phase and still seeking applicants.

This comes as the department works to address staffing shortages, amid ongoing violence in the city. The first part of the application process entails an online submission with basic information.

“Regardless of whether policing is popular or not, it’s still the number one number that’s called by people when there’s danger, or when they need help or when they need someone to protect them,” said Sgt. Justin Collins, who runs RPD’s Recruitment Unit.

The nearly 20-year veteran officer explains the type of candidate the agency is seeking is primarily a person with good character and emotional intelligence.

“Anywhere from 19 – 34 years of age – some people looking for a second career, or to change careers, we’re looking for that type of person that wants to be part of the change and wants to serve the community,” Sgt. Collins explains.

“So the first part, obviously the application then probably about a week or two before the exam they’ll get notified about where to show up. They take the written exam and then probably about five to six months afterward they’ll get their score and then they’re invited to our physical agility,” RPD Recruitment Officer, Michelle Calderon said.

If the candidate passes that phase of the hiring process, the background check begins. This entails meeting with an investigator, completing a medical exam, drug test, psychiatric evaluation, hearing and eyesight exams, family interviews, as well as a polygraph test.

The whole process from the exam to a formal hire takes about a year. There are also perks to the job title, as well.

“So you’ll get free medical, which is amazing. They’ll get great dental, great vision. If you have an associate’s degree in criminal justice you’ll make 2% already off-the-bat more. If you have a bachelor’s in any degree you’ll get 4% higher. We’ll also pay you to go to school once you’re already on the job to go back and get those degrees,” RPD Officer Calderon said.

The agency is also hoping to recruit more local candidates, bridging a gap in making deeper connections in the community being served.

“I’m from the city so personally I’d love to see city residents that would apply because I think it’s so important to be from the same community that you police which is one of the reasons I wanted to be in this police department,” RPD Officer Calderon explained.

She is a 17-year-veteran with the department and also a mom of two. She’s also setting an example for other local prospective officers.

“It was definitely never a goal. Growing up we had our struggles you know financially, there was domestic violence in the home… my father was in and out of prison so we had a lot of stuff going on at home and I just knew I never wanted to take that road,” RPD Officer Calderon shareD.

Through encouragement from family and friends, she took a chance and applied. It took her three times to get hired, but now she is able to serve in the community where she grew up. Michelle explains why that connection to the people is so critical.

“Something happened that obviously, they call us when they’re on their worst day, I was able to come in and talk to them and calm the whole situation down because I had prior knowledge of the person; we had been friends or acquaintances. To me that’s so important when you know the people,” she said.

Applications are due by midnight on Friday, August 19th. The first written exam is scheduled for September 17th.

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