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Fire and police department prepare for civil service exams

By Tia Lyons
This article was published January 9, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

The El Dorado police and fire departments are gearing up for spring civil service exams and reviewing regulations to round out promotional positions in the fire department.

During a regular meeting Monday, the El Dorado Civil Service Commission agreed to a request by Fire Chief Chad Mosby to rely on state statute to help fill a lieutenant’s position.

Mosby noted that former EFD Capt. David Nix recently resigned from the department and was married last month in Niagara Falls.

He said Brad Bailey was promoted to captain, leaving a lieutenant’s position and two entry level firefighter slots available.

The fire chief explained that he plans to fill the lieutenant’s position during civil service exams, which are set for April 2, 3 and 4.

However, Mosby said there is only one firefighter within the EFD who meets the three-year eligibility requirement for work experience to apply for the promotion.

Mosby said local civil service rules and regulations allow for the three-year rule, while Arkansas law provides for one year of experience.

Commissioner Toddy Pitard inquired about the local rule, and Mosby said the civil service commission approved it years ago at the behest of former EFD Chief Floyd McAdoo and former EPD Chief Ricky Roberts, who is now Union County sheriff.

“They asked for it to give them more experience before moving up to their first supervisory role. It’s also for the sergeants within the (EPD),” Mosby said.

He said the commission approved the state minimum when a similar issue arose in 2017.

Commissioner Rodney Peevy said he preferred the state minimum.

“Some people try harder when there’s more competition … It encourages people to learn their job as soon as possible, and it’s (an incentive) for people to stay because they see they’ll be rewarded for doing their job,” Peevy said.

State law also considers those who “may not be good test takers but who are good at their job,” Peevy said.

Mosby said all qualified candidates do not always sign up for promotional exams.

Commissioner Scott Ellen said the decision to implement the one-year requirement was likely made during a time when both departments had a wide pool of qualified, entry-level candidates.

“They’ve also had plenty of hard workers who may be good test-takers but do not put for the effort to learn their job,” Peevy said.

Like Peevy, White said he preferred the three-year minimum, telling commissioners that new officers are not fully trained until after a year.

Mosby said he was asking for the state minimum only for the 2018 spring testing cycle.

“We’ll just take it on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Mosby presented another request, asking the commission to consider changing the site for written promotional exams, saying that firefighters have complained about distractions that occur at EPDn headquarters.

The written promotional exams are administered at the EPD, where regular police operations continue throughout the testing cycle.

“My guys have been in that sally port for three years. It echoes real bad … it’s very distracting, and my guys have lodged concerns about it,” Mosby said.

Commissioners agreed to administer written promotional exams for the EFD in the training room of Central Fire Station next to City Hall.

All oral interviews will remain at the EPD.

White said he is looking forward to a good turnout of entry-level candidates for the spring testing.

He reminded commissioners that former EPD Lt. Randy Harvey retired last month, and a pinning ceremony was held on Dec. 22 for Scott Harwell and Jarod Primm, who were promoted to lieutenant and sergeant, respectively.

White said two new-hires began training Sunday at the Arkansas Law Enforcement training Academy, and there is still a qualified candidate on the EPD’s entry-level eligibility list.

Commissioners said they will convene at the EPD on April 6 to certify spring test results and to host a cookout for the police and fire departments.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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