As Police Chief Billy White’s retirement nears, the El Dorado Civil Service Commission has broadened its search for candidates and scheduled spring exams to help fill positions in the police and fire departments.
White’s last day with the El Dorado Police Department will be Jan. 31. He has served with the EPD for nearly 30 years and was appointed chief in 2013.
The commission agreed to extend the deadline for candidates to apply for the police chief’s job from Dec. 15 and to Jan. 15. Earlier this week, White informed civil service commissioners that he will not be able to stay past his retirement date.
Commissioners said four applications, all from within the EPD, had been submitted by Dec. 15, and ECSC chairman Toddy Pitard said that while “any of the (in-house candidates) would be an excellent choice,” the ECSC wanted to cast a wider net to allow candidates outside the EPD to apply.
“We want to get enough applications to make sure we get the best person for the job. We want to make sure we’ve got the best pool of applicants to pull from,” Pitard said previously.
Along with the extension has come some adjustments in how the ESCS is advertising the position.
Newspaper advertising and social media postings are being complemented by listings on job search websites, such as Indeed.com and those that target the law enforcement community, commissioners said.
Pitard and White said retired EPD Lt. Randy Harvey, an on-air personality and music director for a local radio broadcast station, is assisting with the effort.
“We’re not getting a lot of outside applicants. We’ve actually got none …, so we’re taking a different direction with our advertising, so we should get more with the platforms we’re using now,” Pitard said during a ECSC meeting earlier this week. “The safety of our city is important. The mayor and the (El Dorado City Council) have entrusted us with this job, and we want to do the best we can to find the best candidate possible, whether they’re internal or external.”
Pitard had also said that he had spoken with White and White agreed to stay past Jan. 31 if a new chief had not been selected by then.
However, White told commissioners Monday that if he continued to work for the EPD past his retirement date, he would not be eligible for retirement benefits from the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System (LOPFI).
“I’ve already submitted my paperwork, and I get my first retirement check Feb. 1 and LOPFI says you can’t be retired and continue to work at the place you retired from,” White said. “Jan. 31 is my last day.”
Pitard said the Jan. 15 due date could be extended again, if necessary.
To apply for the chief position, call Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer’s office at 870-862-7911. Applications are also available online at www.eldoradopolice.org or www.goeldorado.com.
Applications may be submitted to the Civil Service Commission at 201 N. Jefferson.
Civil service exams
Civil service exams for spring 2019 have been scheduled for April 1-3 for the police and fire departments.
Written exams for new hires and promotional positions will be held April 1, followed by in-house interviews for each department April 2 and oral interviews April 3.
The civil service commission will certify results April 4.
Physical training assessments for the police department are also set for the morning of April 2, while the fire department typically schedules its PTAs the weekend prior to the written and oral tests due to the amount of set-up time required.
White said the police department is expected to have at least one vacancy for uniformed personnel by the time the spring testing cycle rolls around.
Deputy Chief Sean McCall, of the El Dorado Fire Department, said the EFD has several entry-level openings. Each department has 51 positions for uniformed personnel.
“We’ve got four positions right now, so we’re anxious to get that testing date set and those positions filled,” McCall said.
Like the ECSC with its search for a new police chief, McCall said the EFD is looking into new ways to advertise available positions, noting that younger workers tend to be glued into digital media.
Pitard said the commission will shore up details regarding the exams during its next regularly scheduled meetings on Feb. 4 and March 4.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.