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Consider adjusting test

It’s a well-known adage that “good help is hard to find.”

We have heard that from employers of all types in the local area. In a couple of cases, businesses have even cited insufficient staffing as a reason for closing. Many of those seeking new employees complain that candidates can’t pass drug screenings or are unwilling to perform the required tasks or to report during the specified hours for the job.

If those things are true for retail stores, eateries, trucking companies and other businesses, imagine how difficult it must be to find suitable candidates to serve as law enforcement officers. Not only do those employed in law enforcement need to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit, but they also need to be willing to put their lives on the line for others every single day. And, they must meet all of those condition while still being willing to accept a fairly low rate of pay, given the demands of the job.

That is why we believe Steubenville officials have the right idea as they consider some minor changes in their law enforcement recruiting process. They intend to loosen some of the requirements of the entry-level police civil service test in an effort to attract more applicants.

The city last offered the test in August. A total of 10 candidates applied, but only two passed both the written and physical portions of the test. Those applicants still must pass the required background check, polygraph exam, drug and alcohol screening and psychological test.

To deepen the pool of potential police officer candidates, the city hopes to offer the test again before the end of the year. This time, though, the testing requirements may be loosened, and some special accommodations may be made. One example City Manager Jim Mavromatis cited would be giving credit for military service, where candidates already have proven they have some of the necessary discipline and training.

Any changes to the process would first have to be approved by the city’s Civil Service Commission.

We urge commission members to give serious consideration to reasonable changes to the testing process. We also encourage other local communities to consider making similar adjustments. Taking small steps to attract more applicants just might be the key to finding the help they need.

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