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Police, fire departments call for applicants

Becky Campbell • Feb 9, 2020 at 12:00 AM

With recent announcements from law enforcement agencies about job openings, it appears they’re having a hard time filling their ranks.

But the public service sector of police work isn’t the only agency in need. Recently, the Johnson City Police Department and Fire Department put out a plea for applicants, hoping to fill in numerous vacancies. The Tennessee Highway Patrol, which just graduated a group of new troopers, also announced this week that it’s accepting applications.

The city departments opened the application process Jan. 21 and will accept them through Feb. 28.

“Qualified applicants should demonstrate integrity, good judgment and the willingness to make a difference in our community,” Police Chief Karl Turner said.

Acting Major of Operations Brian Rice said finding qualified candidates is getting more difficult. 

“We’re not the only department having problems finding quality applicants,” Rice said. “We’ve been doing two hiring processes a year and we’re still short.”

Rice said there are 13 sworn officer positions open.

“It’s a good job ... it’s a steady job,” he said, but the work can be dangerous and that might be one of several factors that keep people from applying.”

The first step in the hiring process is the Police Officer Examination.

New officers receive nine weeks of paid training at the police academy, followed by 16 weeks of on-the-job training under the guidance of experienced field training officers. New officers will start on one of five patrol units, working 12-hour shifts with an uninterrupted seven-day break each month.

Starting trainee pay for police officers is $35,415.46 and moves to $37,198.14 after completion of the probationary period.

Johnson City Police officers have the opportunity to serve on numerous specialty units such as the K-9 Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, Special Weapons and Tactics Team, Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Bomb Squad, and the School Resource Officer Program. The department also has officers who work with federal programs in the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Successful police applicants will be eligible for the Tennessee POST Certification $2,100 incentive and other state POST Certification $1,000 incentive, which requires transition school.

Potential firefighters also must take an assessment test before being selected to move forward in the hiring process.

Firefighter trainees receive 12 weeks of paid training through the Northeast Regional Fire Training School. New firefighters will be assigned to one of three shifts where they are on duty for 24 hours at a time, every other day, for five days after which they will be off for four days before the schedule repeats.

Firefighters work an average of nine or 10 days per month. Starting trainee pay for firefighters is $33,751.66 and moves to $35,415.46 after completion of the probationary period.

Successful firefighter applicants will be eligible for the following incentives:

• Tennessee Certified Firefighter I $1,200 incentive;

• Tennessee EMT (Basic) $1,350 incentive; and 

• Tennessee EMT (Advanced) $1,350 incentive.

Examination registration information and requirements are available on the city website, www.johnsoncitytn.org/hr. Registration must be completed in person at the Human Resources Department, 601 E. Main St., Johnson City, TN 37601. A $25 non-refundable examination fee is due at the time of registration.

For more information, potential applicants can call 423.434.6020.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol opened the application process Tuesday and applicants must apply online at www.tn.gov/Careers by 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time on Feb. 18. Applicants for the position of state trooper must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen and have a high school diploma or equivalent. No applicants with felony convictions will be considered.

The THP school is a 19-week academy, and training will prepare cadets for real-world situations, according to the department. This particular class will begin training in July.

“Our training is Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission approved. Additionally, the training that you receive from our training curriculum is transferable as college credit hours,” Lt. Bill Miller said in a press release. “We also provide you the opportunity to attend numerous law enforcement training classes to obtain specialty skills such as crash reconstruction, drug recognition expert, instructor development and more.”

Daily services performed by a Tennessee state trooper include assisting the public, enforcement of criminal and traffic laws, traffic enforcement, motorcycle traffic patrol, crash investigation, crash reconstruction, criminal interdiction, criminal investigations, identity crimes investigations, special operations and tactical duties, K-9 handling, diving, aviation, executive protective services, bomb squad and much more.

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