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Twelve police departments in York County are holding a recruitment fair next week where people can speak with officers and get a close-up look at police vehicles and equipment, including items used by several specialized countywide teams.

People who submit an application with the Metropolitan York Police Testing Consortium are effectively applying with all 12 departments. The fee to apply is $50.

Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz, chair of the consortium, said the organization allows the 12 departments to pool resources. Also, an applicant could conceivably be placed on 12 hiring lists by taking one test and paying one application fee, he said.

The 2018 Police Recruiting Fair will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Utz Arena at the York Expo Center. Those attending are asked to use Gate 6 on Highland Avenue.

The consortium's Police Recruiting Fair is held every other year.

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 four regional departments — Northeastern Regional, Southern Regional, Southwestern Regional and York Area Regional.

Dates to remember: The consortium is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, and all applications must be submitted online.

Entry-level testing is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24. 

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.

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

You don't have to live in York County or have a college degree to apply. Convicted felons are ineligible. All applicants will be mailed a study guide, according to the consortium.

Free tutoring: The YWCA in York is offering free tutoring sessions to help applicants prepare for the written examination they must pass in order to be considered by the consortium.

The sessions are planned for noon Saturday, Jan. 20, and Monday, Jan. 22, as well as at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23; and also at noon Thursday, Feb. 15, and 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17.

For information on attending the sessions, contact Ruby Martin, the YWCA's chief program officer, at 717-845-2631, ext. 110 or 119, or at rmartin@ywcayork.org.

York City interim Police Chief Troy Bankert said his department is always looking for ways to increase diversity in its ranks.

Two years ago, when the last consortium recruitment fair was announced, Swartz said increasing the number of minority applicants is a priority.

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 has said.

The consortium works with YWCA of York's Racial Justice Programming committee to try to rectify that, police officials said.

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Minority recruitment plan: Bankert was still a lieutenant when he created and compiled statistics for York City Police's 2014-15 strategic minority recruitment plan, which cited obstacles to minority hiring that included 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.

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.

Back in 2015, 92 percent of 100 York City officers were white men. Three percent were black, 2 percent were women; 2 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent was Asian.

Current breakdown: As of this week, 89 percent of the 100 York City police officers are white men, according to Lt. Dan Aikey.

Five percent are black, 3 percent are women, 2 percent are Hispanic and 1 percent is Middle Eastern, he said.

According to Aikey, 29.6 percent of officers hired by York City Police since the start of the minority recruitment plan are considered police minorities.

"I do see progress," Bankert told The York Dispatch. "The two people (York City) hired in the first year we had this strategic plan were police minorities."

Bankert said another problem to increasing diversity has been civil-service requirements.

Rule of Three: "I have to take the top three candidates. It's called the Rule of Three," he said. "And I'm prohibited by civil-service law to skip any veterans. Once the testing begins, it is not subjective any more. The only way for us to impact (diversity hiring) is through encouraging minorities to apply."

The system is such that once someone applies, he or she either passes or fails, according to Bankert.

"Race or gender, there's no difference in the pass/fail rate," he said.

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

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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