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Watertown police exam begins process of filling 12 vacancies

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WATERTOWN — The long process to try to fill a dozen vacancies in the city’s police department has begun with a Sept. 17 civil service exam.

But Police Chief Charles P. Donoghue said it won’t be until late December or early January when the exam results are scored in Albany and the successful ones will be placed on a new Civil Service list.

“I don’t know why it takes 10 or 12 weeks to get the results,” he said Friday.

Although 145 potential recruits signed up to take the exam, 87 showed up at the police department’s exam site at Watertown High School that day. Two others are slated to take the exam on Oct. 4.

An additional 18 took the exam at other sites. They might have taken the exam for another police department. There were 38 no-shows for the exam.

It won’t be another year before candidates who passed the Sept. 17 exam will enter the police academy.

Before the exam, Chief Donoghue said he’d never seen anything like the present shortage of officers.

“It’s horrible,” he said then.

The Watertown Police Department budgets for 72 officers, but now has 60. The department recently added five positions, but those haven’t been filled.

Chief Donoghue said he thinks the driving factors behind the shortage of Watertown officers are public opinion of the job and a considerable decrease in qualified applicants.

Meanwhile, the police department is hiring one recruit officer to attend the next police academy, beginning on Oct. 3. The recruit would fill one of the 12 vacancies.

That new recruit must attend a 26-week police academy followed by 14 weeks of field training to become an officer certified by the state Division of Criminal Justice, Bureau for Municipal Police.

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