Police officer testing begins

Twenty-three applicants began their first step of a long process to become a member of the Marshalltown Police Department Saturday morning.

The hiring process to be a police officer began at 8:30 a.m. in the Coliseum for a physical fitness test. The applicants were timed for how many push-ups and sit-ups they could do in one minute, then they did a sit and reach test. After that, they went to Marshalltown High School to run 1.5 miles.

“Normally we have at least two to five people fall out during the physical portion of the testing,” said Capt. Brian Batterson, of the Marshalltown Police Department.

After that, the applicants went to the City Council Chambers to take a written test. The written portion is required to test for the basic writing and reading skills.

“On average maybe three fall out during the written test,” Batterson said.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper said these test are an important part of law enforcement.

“In law enforcement report writing is a big part of what we do and we need to have people that have those skills,” Tupper said. “The physical fitness part of it is important because law enforcement is difficult work, it can be very physically strenuous work.”

After they took those tests they accumulated points and submitted their resume.

“We will score the resume based on guidance from the Civil Service Commission,” Batterson said. “They’ll get some points from that and we’ll have interviews, which will be a point total and we’ll total up all the points and develop a list from a one to 10 top score.”

The Civil Service Commission certifies points when an opening is available; the police chief makes the final decision on who is hired.

Batterson said he expected more to test.

“It’s a little disappointing because we have 48 people that had said they were coming and of those only 23 showed up,” Batterson said. “I’m not sure about why that is.”

He said the average amount of people to test is 30. Tupper said when he was looking for a job in law enforcement a little more than 20 years ago more people would test.

“It’s changed quite a bit,” Tupper said. “When I was looking for job in law enforcement the community the size of Marshalltown would get a couple hundred applicants and most of them would all show up to the testing. We’re just not having the numbers anymore.”

Tupper said it’s not just happening in Marshalltown.

“When I talk to my colleagues across the state of Iowa they’re seeing the same thing,” Tupper said.

Batterson said 95 percent of the applicants are not from Marshalltown. Tupper said he would like to see people that have ties to the community become Marshalltown police officers.

“I think people from Marshalltown, at the end of the day, make better police officers,” Tupper said. “People that have an understanding for the community and the problems facing the community when they enter the workforce will do a much better job over the long term.”

Batterson said he would also like to see more people test from Marshalltown.

“I’d like to see some Latino applicants from the community apply,” Batterson said. “We are really trying to get some people from Marshalltown to test for police officers in Marshalltown.”

Batterson said he anticipates having two police officer openings in 12 months.