Schenectady police chief hopefuls test for position

Nine candidates will take tests today in the hopes of being the next person to lead a police departm
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Nine candidates will take tests today in the hopes of being the next person to lead a police department that in recent years has been plagued by scandal.

The candidates for Schenectady police chief will pick up special pens and paper today as they take the eight-hour-long civil service exam.

Eight of the candidates will take the test at Schenectady County Community College; the ninth will take it in Dutchess County, Schenectady County Personnel Administrator Kathleen Heap said.

A 10th candidate, one based in Suffolk County, had been approved to take the exam but backed out.

That leaves the department’s three current assistant chiefs, Mark Chaires, Michael Seber and Jack Falvo, who are taking a promotional exam, and six outside candidates.

Heap has said she could not release the identities of any of the candidates, citing civil service rules. A total of 15 applications were received for the open exam.

The city department has been without a chief since October. That’s when Michael N. Geraci Sr. left to take a job with the federal government.

The department has been run by Commissioner Wayne Bennett and the assistant chiefs since.

The applicants are vying to help run a department that still has five officers suspended with pay while an alleged December beating of a suspect is investigated. A detective was also sent to prison last year after admitting to taking drug evidence.

Those are the most recent incidents in a decade of upheaval that has seen five other officers jailed and others disciplined for misconduct. The new chief will be the third within the decade.

The tests are expected to take two months to score, with a new chief appointment not expected until summer.

Heap described the chief’s exam as a complicated one. Candidates have eight hours in which to complete it.

Sections include administration, administrative supervision and knowledge of the law.

There is also a written job simulation exercise, covering topics from human resources management to public relations to police procedure.

“It asks them to make decisions on situations based on their first decision,” Heap said. “Then they have options for a second decision.”

Asked if the section was similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, Heap agreed. But, in this version, they can’t go back. No erasers are available.

The applicants will use a special “latent ink developer” pen on that section, preventing them from changing an answer.

“Once they make a decision, that decision can’t be changed,” Heap said.

The city exam follows chief exams given in 2007 for Glenville, 2006 for Niskayuna and 2001 for Rotterdam. It coincides with the civil service parking meter attendant exam; 19 candidates are taking that exam. Both exams will be given in the same room.

Unlike the chief’s exam, erasers will be available for those taking the parking meter attendant test.

Categories: Schenectady County

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