Police Chief Wants Test Scores Lowered For More Officers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Helena-West Helena, AR) The Police Chief in Helena-West wants to drop test scores so he can put more officers on the streets.

But not everyone likes the idea.

Chief Uless Wallace wants the city's Civil Service Commission to cut him some slack so he can hire more officers, "Right now I don't foresee this situation changing until the end of, probably, 2014."

Helena-West Helena Police Chief Uless Wallace finds himself between a rock and hard place.

The chief is facing a shortage of officers at a time when crime fighting is a priority,

"Violent crimes are down but we've still got the small crimes. I've still got drug issues, I've still got gang issues, I've still got burglaries and break-ins because don't have enough "boots on the ground" constantly."

There are 46 employees on the Helena-West Helena Police force. but only 32 are full-time officers.

Chief Wallace said when you subtract officers in training, special crime units, mandatory court appearances, and officers leaving for better paying jobs, he's left with only two patrolmen on each shift, "When these guys take their days off, it puts me in a strain because then my administrative staff, I have to put them out on the street as well."

The chief wants the city's civil service commission to lower the required score on the police admissions tests or just drop them altogether.

Chief Wallace says he recently hired two experienced officers, but they fell short of the required test score and he had to let them go, "The civil service commission kind of handcuffs the police department and limited me, as chief of police, to put the adequate amount of police officers out here."

Tommy Gatlin worked 28 years for the city and thinks the civil service test policy should be left alone.

He says it will help stop the "good ole boy" system, "OK, my buddy needs a job, let's put him to work. So you're just hiring people off the street instead of getting quality employees."