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A York-area hiring consortium that represents 11 municipal police departments is accepting applications, and candidates can vie for open positions within all the departments by completing a single application process and paying one $50 fee.

The Metropolitan York Police Testing Consortium is accepting applications until 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 15, and will hold entry-level written testing on Friday, July 22, and Saturday, July 23.

"The advantage with the consortium is, aside from being able to pool our resources to recruit, the applicant takes one series of examinations and can end up on 11 (hiring) lists," said Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz, who is currently chair of the consortium. "They've greatly increased their chances of possibly gaining employment."

Participating in the consortium are police departments from York City; the boroughs of Hanover, West York and Wrightsville; the townships of Penn, Spring Garden, Springettsbury and West Manchester; and three regional departments — Southern Regional, Southwestern Regional and York Area Regional.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens who have reached the age of 21 prior to either taking the written exam or starting the police academy, depending on the department. There are other requirements for applicants as well, including tests to ensure a candidate's eyesight, hearing, physical fitness and mental health are good.

'Arduous process': A valid Pennsylvania driver's license also is a must, and military veterans receive hiring preference.

"It's a very arduous process," Swartz said. "We're trying to screen in the applicants who have the skills we're looking for."

To help with that process, the consortium has partnered with the YWCA of York, which will provide free tutoring sessions to help applicants prepare for the consortium's written exam.

Ruby Martin, YWCA of York's chief program officer, said the tutoring sessions begin Saturday, June 25, and run through Thursday, July 14.

Diverse applicants sought: Police officials are looking for the highest-scoring candidates and also hoping to increase the diversity of their ranks, according to Swartz.

The number of women and people of color who apply with the consortium is low, compared to the number of white men who apply.

Swartz said there are likely a number of reasons for that, and York City Police Chief Wes Kahley has said his department's outreach efforts to increase the number of women and minority hires have not succeeded.

Both Swartz and Kahley have said distrust of police could be one factor for the low number of minority applicants. Swartz said the consortium continues to work with the YWCA of York's Racial Justice Programming committee to try to increase the number of minority applicants.

"That's a priority for the consortium," Swartz said.

York City's plan: York City Police Lt. Troy Bankert compiled statistics in a 2014-15 strategic recruitment plan for his department in an effort to encourage a more diverse group of applicants.

"Minority police officers have historically been difficult to attract during the testing process," the plan states, citing obstacles including a lack of interest in police jobs, a poor image of police nationwide, a low overall population of qualified minority candidates and the fact that York County's population is racially separated.

The plan states that 92 percent of city officers are white men. Three percent are black, 2 percent are Hispanic, 1 percent are Asian and 2 percent are women, according to the plan. There are about 100 York City officers.

The plan suggest ideas to solve the problem, some of which are already in use. Since about 2010, the York City Police Department has "enhanced its technology and infrastructure to attract those who are high-technology prone," the plan states.

Bankert also compiled consortium numbers in 2015 and determined that of the 325 applicants in that hiring cycle, about 15 percent were women and about 20 percent were racial minorities.

'No magic bullet': York City Police Lt. Roy Kohler currently serves as chair of the consortium's minority-recruitment committee.

"We're always looking for new ideas," he said. "There's no magic bullet, so to speak."

Swartz said the consortium is trying "to bring the very best candidates we can to York County law enforcement and to increase diversity."

"One of the best recruiting tools we have is our officers who are out in our communities," he said.

To that end, the consortium has posted a recruitment video on YouTube featuring several officers of color.

For more information about the consortium or to obtain an application, visit to YorkPoliceJobs.org.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo atlevans@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at@LizScolforoYD.

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