On Tuesday, the Gadsden Civil Service Board unanimously approved a request from Mayor Craig Ford’s office to remove an outdated rule that had prevented new police officers and firefighters from applying to work for the City of Gadsden.
Previously, new police hires were limited to individuals under the age of 46, and new fire hires were limited to applicants under 40 years old. The new change removes those caps in both departments.
“This seemed like a no-brainer to me,” said Ford. “We have dozens of unfilled police and firefighter slots, and you’re telling me if someone is 40 or 46 years old and wants to work for the City of Gadsden, they can’t even apply? In today’s time, there are 60-year-olds who are in better shape, with more life experience, and better judgment than many 30-year-olds.
“This simple rule change is one more way to expand our pool of first responder applicants in Gadsden,” Ford continued. “In fact, we already have an additional APOST certified police officer who can go through the hiring process and a new certified paramedic who can apply to become a firefighter in Gadsden. If an individual is willing, able, and can pass the tests to protect and serve our city, I will be the first to welcome them with open arms!”
The Gadsden Police Department and the Gadsden Fire Department, while under the direction of the mayor, are also governed by the Gadsden Civil Service Board primarily for personnel-related matters. The board maintains a series of rules on matters such as requirements for hiring, seniority, selection of the police chief and fire chief, and more.
While neither the mayor nor the city council dictate the civil service rules, Mayor Ford has appointed key members of his staff as liaisons for the police and fire departments. Tena King, Director of City Services, works with the police department, and Brett Johnson, Chief of Staff, works with the fire department.
Since taking office in November, King and Johnson have worked with the police chief and fire chief respectively to identify new opportunities for improving recruitment efforts. As a result, it was discovered that the existing rules included the maximum age restriction for new hires, which led the mayor’s office to investigate further.
Their research concluded that the hiring age restrictions were related to the city’s previous local retirement plan for police and fire, which was changed decades ago.
Any new hire in either department must pass physical fitness tests, professional psychological evaluations, medical evaluations, drug tests, and more prior to being hired, regardless of his or her age.
Anyone interested in applying for the City of Gadsden police or fire department can visit cityofgadsden.com/Jobs or contact the city’s Human Resources Department at 256-549-4550.
Interested candidates may also visit the Human Resources Department, located on the second floor of City Hall at 90 Broad Street Gadsden, Alabama 35901.