The results are in for the fall testing cycle of annual civil service exams, and the El Dorado police and fire departments each wound up with a pool of four candidates that are eligible for hire.
Police Chief Billy White and Deputy Fire Chief Sean McCall reported that four candidates successfully completed all phases of testing to become eligible to hire for entry-level positions within each department.
The tests were conducted last week and included physical, written and oral components.
A total of eight candidates signed up for the police department exams, and four made it through all rounds of testing, White said.
Earlier this year, the El Dorado Civil Service Commission agreed to switch to a different written exam for the police department.
White said the new tests yielded “somewhat better” results, noting that seven of the eight candidates passed the new test.
“The scoring is so much more consistent. The scores are closer together,” said Scott Ellen, former chairman of the civil service commission.
Candidates must score at least 70 percent on the written exam before they can move on to physical tests and oral exams.
“Those who didn’t make it didn’t pass the oral interviews. We’re currently full staffed, so we’ll have four on the eligibility list,” White said.
McCall said the fire department had five openings.
“Our testing procedure didn’t change. We had four to pass,” McCall said.
He said two firefighters — Matthew Freeman and Trevor Cheatham — were recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant/engineer.
Both departments have slots for 51 uniformed personnel.
Commissioners certified the test results, which will be good for a year.
Candidates for the police department and their rankings are William Holt, 1; Brandon Robinson, 2; Tanawat (Rico) Roberson, 3; and Kaneshia Traylor, 4.
Those who passed entry-level exams for the fire department include, Bryce Giles, 1; Justin Lewis, 2; Randal Brown, 3; and John Briscoe, 4.
The civil service commission also agreed to tweak its rules, regulations, and bylaws, which have not been revised in a decade, Commissioner Toddy Pitard said.
Pitard noted that the city of Fort Smith recently implemented such revisions.
“We can look at that and see what we have, and I’m sure there others that we can look at and model,” he said. “We can look at new formats of 21-century rules and regulations.”
Commissioner Janis Van Hook said the revisions should also spell out the powers of the mayor and city council regarding the civil service commission and the operations of the police and fire departments.
“We need to take a look at that so we won’t get into a position like we were in before,” she said.
Van Hook was referring to a request that came earlier this year when Mayor Frank Hash asked commissioners to investigate comments that were made by Mosby in a series of stories that was published in March in the News-Times.
The stories centered on a reduction in minimum staffing per shift in the EFD — a cost-cutting measure that was taken in response to a $1 million revenue shortfall in the city’s 2017 general fund.
Mosby explained that the comments led to a misunderstanding regarding public safety and possible scenarios that could occur if additional cuts had to be made.
After several months, commissioners put the matter to rest with letters to Hash, and the EFD minimum staffing was restored from 12 to 13.
Commissioners heard a report on the police and fire departments’ roles in the grand opening of the Murphy Arts District, Sept. 27 — Oct. 1.
“They were quite pleasant to work with. They were very safety conscious. They had questions, and they answered our questions,” White said.
Both departments dedicated personnel for the grand opening and set up command stations on the southwest corner of the intersection of South Washington and Locust.
White said celebration went smoothly for his department.
Capt. Kevin Holt, public information officer for the EPD, previously said two arrests were made during the five-day period for misdemeanor offenses — public intoxication and a juvenile attempting to use fraudulent identification to enter an 18-and-up concert.
Fire Chief Chad Mosby said the fire department rendered first aid for minor injuries, including a skinned knee from a fall.
White told commissioners that MAD will reimburse city coffers for the use of city services, which include the Department of Public Works.
“I don’t see a lot of police participation in the future, unless it’s for bigger, outdoor shows. For in-house shows, they have security,” White said.
“Right now, our focus will be traffic control and the area surrounding the events themselves,” he said.
Commissioner Toddy Pitard commended the police and fire departments for their work with MAD.
Commissioners also elected new officers, selecting Pitard as chairman and Commissioner Tiffney Hughes as recording secretary.
Ellen, who has served on the commission for a number of years, has said he will step down at the end of the year.
He was recently appointed to the El Dorado Planning and Zoning Commission.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.