HARLINGEN — Last year, around this time, about 300 men and women waited in line to take a simple civil service exam.
All had one goal in mind.
They wanted to be a police officer with the Harlingen Police Department.
Now the department is going for a second round of one of its biggest recruitment efforts ever.
The application deadline has closed and a total of 231 applicants will test tomorrow.
Whoever passes the civil service exam will then move onto the agility exam on Saturday.
Nearly 40 are already certified officers.
During last year’s recruitment, only a handful of officers made it to the end out of the almost 300 who initially applied.
This time, the goal is to fill about 11 openings.
In an effort to seek out the best, the department ran an aggressive recruitment campaign.
It ran up the Rio Grande Valley and all the way to Corpus Christi showcasing what the area has to offer.
For the first round of recruitment last year, the police department partnered with a production company to make a short film/recruitment video that will be played in movie theaters all over the Valley, Corpus Christi and surrounding areas.
They used those same tactics this time around.
It also was shared and seen over various social media outlets.
“It seems to be working,” said Officer Larry Moore. “We have a pretty good number of applicants this time.”
Being a police officer is a rewarding and demanding career, officials said. It takes a special type of person to be one.
Recruits must be of good moral character, be able to put service above self, willing to serve the community and want to make a difference, Moore said.
Chief Jeffry Adickes agrees.
Adickes believes it is important to have administrators within the force who can have a positive impact on new recruits and improve their decision-making when they eventually begin patrolling the streets of Harlingen.
“It all starts with recruiting, hiring, training and retention of the best people possible,” Adickes said.
“You can have the best equipment available. You can spend a million dollars on the best equipment. But hiring that one wrong officer can bring down a police department, and a community, as we’ve seen around the country.”
Applications must be returned with the requested documentation or the application will be considered incomplete and will not be accepted.
Next up for applicants will be the entrance exam — a basic civil service exam that tests math, reading comprehension and English.
“Applicants are required to pass all sections,” Moore said. “Sometimes the exam can be hard for those who haven’t taken a test in a while.”
The employment process includes a written exam, physical agility test, background investigation, oral board interview, drug screening, physical examination, psychological examination, functioning testing and a polygraph examination.
After testing, the applicants will go on to take the department agility exam the Saturday after testing.
Qualifications to be an officer
Applicants must be 21 years or older and not have reached his or her 45th birthday, must be a high school graduate or have a GED equivalent, with successful completion of 12 accredited college hours or two years of military service with an honorable discharge.
Applicants also may have a current certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and must be a United States citizen and must be able to read, write and speak English.