The Columbus Police Department has unveiled a streamlined version of its officer-hiring process that department officials say has reduced the amount of time it takes to hire a new officer by as much as two to three months.
Police Chief Jon Rohde presented a change order to the Columbus Board of Works that outlined the new hiring process, which he said has eliminated 60 to 94 days from the time it takes to select and swear in a new officer.
The announcement came after Rohde and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop swore in a new officer, Marcus Clark, only 11 days after another officer retired.
Similarly, Rohde said another member of the force will be retiring Sept. 1, but a new officer will be sworn in to fill that position Sept. 6, a quick turnaround the chief attributed to the streamlined officer selection process.
Rohde said the change in the department’s hiring process came after he reached out to Cummins Inc. employees last fall and asked them to conduct a Six Sigma study into how long it took the department to fill open positions.
The results of the study found that the most time-consuming portion of CPD’s personnel process was down time in between the different phases of the hiring process, such as written tests, physical tests, interviews, background checks, polygraph tests, medical tests and board hearings.
The study suggested that the police department take steps to align those various phases on a tighter timeline to cut down on the wait time between each portion of the hiring process.
Background checks, in particular, were a time-consuming process that, at times, failed to eliminate enough people from the selection process, Rohde said.
However, language in the new process allows the background check — which includes reviews of an applicant’s criminal, driving, credit, educational, employment and military history and a review of references — to be administered in multiple phases.
That change enabled the police department to split the background check into two phases, a process that has allowed for more applicants to be eliminated earlier in the process if they are not suited to join CPD, Rohde said.
The police department implemented the Six Sigma changes during a pilot program in January, which proved to be successful, Rohde said. The chief credited his department’s ability to quickly fill in recent officer retirements to the pilot program.
Board of Works members gave unanimous approval to the changes, which means they have now moved from a pilot program to official CPD practices.