The El Dorado Civil Service Commission wrapped up the spring 2021 testing cycle last week and the city’s police and fire departments are looking to fill positions and promote uniformed employees.
Entry-level and promotional exams were administered March 29 - 31 in the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium and at the Union County Fairgrounds.
Commissioners agreed to continue following health and safety precautions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In 2020, ECSC decided to relocate the usual testing site from El Dorado Police Department headquarters, to the Activities Building at the fairgrounds to allow for social distancing during two testing cycles, one in the spring and the other in the fall.
The 2020 spring testing period was postponed for several weeks because of the public health crisis.
Last week, civil service commissioners split up to monitor written exams that were administered March 29 and 30 at the fairgrounds for the police department and in the auditorium for the fire department.
Oral interviews for entry-level and promotional candidates in both departments were conducted March 31 in the municipal auditorium.
Five applicants took entry level exams for the fire department and Fire Chief Chad Mosby said four passed all three phases of testing — physical agility and written and oral exams.
Entry level candidates for the fire department and their rankings include:
• Elise Moses, 1.
• Austin Perry, 2.
• Cody Shelbon, 3.
• Brody Stanley, 4.
Mosby said there are two vacancies within the fire department and senior officers are conducting background checks and final interviews to make job offers to fill the two positions.
The fire and police departments each have 51 slots for uniformed personnel.
If the top two candidates accept the job offers, they will then be sent to the Arkansas Fire Training Academy at Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden for 10 weeks of training.
“I think the fire academy starts (April 18). Initial fire training is eight weeks and there’s an additional two weeks for driver operator so they’ll spend the last two weeks learning how to drive the fire truck,” Mosby said.
He noted that numbers were down for applications that were submitted for entry-level exams — an issue with which both departments and the civil service commission have been working to address for the past several years.
They have noted that interest in law enforcement and fire service seems to be waning nationwide.
There has been an uptick in entry-level candidates in recent testing cycles as both the police and fire departments have ramped up recruiting efforts, including turning to social media, expanding their reach with college visits in south Arkansas and north Louisiana and using digital billboards, including the city’s two digital billboards near the municipal auditorium and at the El Dorado Conference Center.
In 2019, the state of Arkansas dropped the minimum hiring age from 21 to 18 for fire departments, which, Mosby said, has also helped with recruitment.
COVID-19 may have affected the numbers for entry level candidates who signed up for civil service exams last week, he said.
“I’m sure some of that is due to COVID. I think the numbers are down statewide from what I’m hearing from other chiefs around the state. These are the ones we had to show up during the testing process, so we’re happy to have them to test,” Mosby said.
The El Dorado Police Department has three job openings for uniformed personnel and enough qualified candidates to potentially fill them, Police Chief Kenny Hickman said.
A total of seven applicants signed up for entry level exams last week, six completed all three phases of testing and two passed, he said.
The two new hires are Eric Snay, 1, and Daniel Wood, 2.
“We handed out less applications this time, but the return was at a higher rate. So, in the end, the amount is within a person or two,” Hickman said.
He said job offers have been extended to Snay and Wood, who, if they accept, will go through the EPD’s 12-week Field Training Officer program and then to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, also held at SAU Tech in East Camden, for 13 weeks.
Two other candidates who remain on the eligibility list from civil service exams that were conducted last fall will head off to ALETA later this month, the police chief said.
Candidates who took promotional exams for the fire department include:
• Clay Doherty, 1.
• Nene McGaugh, 2.
• Winkey Temple, 3.
• Justin Tolin, 1.
• Justin Green, 2.
• Marlee Thurlkill, 3.
• Rufus Bailey, 4.
• William Sewell, 5.
• Steven Gilmore, 6.
• Chris Eckhoff, 7.
• Charles Freeman, 8.
• Casey Sherman, 9.
• Matthew Pease, 1.
• Tim Hearnsberger, 2.
• Jonathan Perry, 3.
• William Wood, 4.
• Braden Christie, 5.
Promotional candidates for the EPD are:
• Jarod Primm.
• Trey Phillips, 1.
• Ryan Landers, 2.
• Sam Bennett, 3.
• Cody Wilson, 1.
• Gerid Ardwin, 2.
• Zack Rowland, 3.
• Earnesto Garcia, 4.
• Tyler Walker, 5.
• Earnest Jackson, 6.
• Cody Hoffman, 7.