By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth City Council is in the process of adopting the new rules created by the city’s Civil Service Commission. Portsmouth City Solicitor John Haas said he believes the civil service rules were set up in the sixties and other than amendments here and there, have remained unchanged.
“What I learned is that over the years the civil service commission had been giving the civil service exam and whoever scored the highest got the job,” Haas said. “So if you read the rules that wasn’t the way it was supposed to work. That was just one factor.”
Haas said the civil service commission has worked on the updates for quite some time, dealing specifically with each city department and how they want to hire.
“The police departments now are relying more on what they call assessment centers,” Haas said. “They do a lot more thorough testing and interviewing. What we’re trying to do and what the commission’s goal is to get the best city employees we can.”
He said the members of the commission are expected to come to the next City Council meeting to give their thought processes that were involved in the rules changes. He said the suggestion was made that the job of police chief be opened up to outsiders rather than just those moving up through the current ranks of the department.
“If the police chief resigned or retired we can hire someone from outside of the department,” Haas said. “That goes for police and fire.”
Haas said the current captains in the police department who would be the current successors to the chief’s position were all in favor of the rule change.
“They all said, ‘I’ll compete against anyone,’” Haas said. “The rank and file thought it was a good idea to open it up.”
Council chose to bring legislation forward to consider the changes as a resolution at the next City Council meeting. Resolutions do not require readings on three separate occasions for adoption.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.