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More than 2,400 Buffalo residents apply to take police exam

When the new Buffalo police exam is offered next month, just over half the applicants are expected to be minorities, and almost a third are expected to be women.

There’s also a good chance a number of the applicants won’t have any college credit.

In an attempt to get more diversity on the city police force, city officials are dropping the minimum 60-hour college credit requirement for the upcoming police exam.

Mayor Brown W. Brown Tuesday said that the city’s research found many police departments in other major cities – including Boston and Philadelphia – do not require college credits to join a police department.

And while the city will continue to encourage officers to continue their education, Brown said there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between having a college education and doing well on the police exam.

Six of the 10 highest scorers on a recent test given as part of a police training program did not have college credit, while one of those barely passing has a college degree, Brown said.

Brown and Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda announced that 2,456 city residents applied to take the police exam being given on June 18. The registration deadline was May 13.

The number of applicants is almost 100 more than when the last exam was administered in 2011, they said.

The city in the past two months has been conducting a recruitment drive intended to attract candidates who reflect the diversity of the city.

Of the 2,456 who signed up to take the test, about 51 percent are minority – including 33 percent African-American, 12 percent Hispanics and over 5 percent classified as “other.”

Almost a third of the applicants – 29 percent – are women.

Most recent census estimates peg the city’s population at 259,000 with 45 percent white and 55 percent minority. The estimates put the city’s African-Americans population at 36.1 percent and Hispanic population at 10.7 percent. The census data has the female population at about 52 percent.

Brown and Derenda said they are happy with the recruitment results.

“To continue strengthening the relationship between our police officers and communities all across Buffalo, we must keep building a police force that represents the diversity of our entire city,” Brown said.

“We will continue to find more ways to build relationships and make our neighborhoods even safer,” he said.

Derenda said about 200 police officers are expected to be hired from June’s Civil Service police exam over the next two to four years.

In addition to the written exam, applicants must pass a physical agility test. About 75 percent of applicants generally don’t pass the agility test, Derenda said.

To qualify for the police exam, an applicant must be between 19 and 35 years old, have lived in the city for 90 days before taking the exam, and have a high school diploma or GED equivalency.

In discussing the decision to lift the college requirement, Brown said the city doesn’t want to preclude a candidate because he or she did not have the money to attend college.

“We feel that is not what determines a good police officer,” Brown said of a college degree.

Derenda was asked what is the most important quality in a police officer.

“Common sense,” the commissioner answered.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com