The lines were “unbelievable” and “fantastic” as more than 2,200 Buffalo residents lined up around the Buffalo Convention Center to take the police exam Saturday morning.
This is the first test Civil Service has offered for Buffalo Police Officers since 2011. The department has 800 officers and expects to use the new list from the test to hire 200 new officers, to replace retirees, in the next two to four years.
This is also the first exam offered since the city removed the requirement that a prospective officer must have 60 hours of college credits. To take Saturday’s exam, prospects needed a high school degree.
Also new with this year’s test is a residency requirement.
In the past, prospective officers needed to live in Buffalo to take the test, but were allowed to leave the city once they hired. The new requirement, reached in negotiations between the city and police union, requires new officers to maintain a residency in the city for at least seven years.
Mayor Byron W. Brown said the residency requirement was important to residents.
The change will allow more members of the community to take the exam, but he said the department has a strong continuing education and training component. Coming out of the academy, every new officer will graduate with 30 credit hours, Brown said. Some officers have later earned master’s degrees and law degrees.
Brown, who was at the Buffalo Convention Center to welcome and encourage the prospective officers, said he was pleased with the diversity of those who showed up to take the exam.
“Diverse recruitment is critically important,” Brown said. “We were able to get into every section of the community, every demographic of the community. The diversity in our city is growing. In our Buffalo Public Schools, we have 75 different languages that are spoken.”
The exam is not something a person can study for, Police Lt. Jeff Rinaldo said, but it does assess skills designed for Buffalo.
“The exam looks for the personality traits of someone who would make a good police officer. That is what the test is designed to measure,” said Rinaldo. “One of the most important traits is someone who exercises good judgement and common sense.”
He noted that the exam is only a first step. All of the over 2,200 candidates will also be required to take a physical agility test, pass a drug screening, and are subject to a background check and medical tests.