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Rochester Police ease application hurdles in effort to attract new officers

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ROCHESTER - Rochester Police are easing some of the requirements to get on the force, in part due to waning numbers of applicants following a deluge of negative media coverage against police that began with the Ferguson, Mo., killing of a black teenager by police back in 2014.

The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb sparked several days of unrest and even riots, and while a grand jury and the U.S. Dept. of Justice ultimately ruled Brown's killing was in self-defense, the incident helped spawn the "Black Lives Matter" movement, which further cast police in a negative light.

"The numbers (of applicants) have definitely dwindled since Ferguson," said Rochester Police Capt. Jason Thomas, who added police are actually trying to hire five full-timers.

He said two of the openings were due to retirements, one was because an officer transferred to another department and two are because the force had received authorization to add two additional officers, which will take the force to a complement of 58 sworn and five part-time officers.

The biggest barrier removed from the application process is that anyone honorably discharged from the military, who possesses an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree or are accredited police officers no longer need take a written test.

Those interested should submit their applications by Jan. 17. The required physical agility test is scheduled for Jan. 19, at the Rochester Police Department, 23 Wakefield St., at 9 a.m.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume and city application to Sgt. Christopher Cost. Completed application packets can be submitted via email to Christopher.cost@rochesternh.net.

"Our department is hoping to add officers who can help us fulfill our mission to be a progressive law enforcement agency, and I encourage everyone who meets the criteria to apply," Rochester Police Chief Paul Toussaint said. "We're proud to serve an evolving community, and doing so means having committed officers who bring fresh ideas and an ability to add to an already strong department."

To qualify for a position with the Rochester Police Department, applicants must:

Be U.S. citizens

Be 20 years of age or older at the time of application

Possess a valid driver's license

Possess a high school diploma or GED certificate

Have 30 college credits, have been honorably discharged from the military or possess full-time police certification from any state at the time of application

Applicants who have full-time officer certification, were honorably discharged from any branch of the military or who possess an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited college or university are exempt from an otherwise required written examination.

Those who do not meet any of those three criteria must earn a score of 70 percent or higher on the cognitive portion of the written examination, which is administered by Great Bay Community College. The next examination will take place on Feb. 2 at 9 a.m.

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