Worried About Recruiting New Cops, Worcester Officials Consider Easing Age Restriction

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2024/03/22/worried-about-recruiting-new-cops-worcester-officials-consider-easing-age-restriction/

Worcester officials are considering a proposal to increase the maximum age someone can begin as a city police officer because it’s so much harder to recruit people to become police officers than it used to be.

“We used to have thousands of people take that exam, and now you have 300 Worcester residents,” said Worcester’s interim police chief, Paul Saucier, during a meeting last week of the city council’s Public Safety Committee, according to a video of the meeting.

The numbers in Worcester reflect a nationwide trend. A study published in April 2023 by Police Executive Research Forum found that law enforcement agencies “are losing officers faster than they can hire new ones.”

“It is no secret that recruitment and retention are serious obstacles facing law enforcement today,” states a report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2023.

The discussion in Worcester took place Thursday, March 14. It came about because of a petition from city resident Danny Diaz.

The age limit to start as a police officer in Worcester is currently 31. Diaz’s initial petition sought to increase the age to 38.

The interim police chief said he supports the idea.

“I agree with Mr. Diaz. I think we should higher the age group. We’re currently at 31. It’d be nice to have some mature officers come through the academy, especially people who went from high school to military, and now they want to become police officers. And that’d be a way of doing it,” Saucier said.

Rick Cipro, a Worcester police sergeant and president of the city police officers’ union, said he’d like to see the age limit raised to 40. That would allow military veterans who served 20 years or a little longer than that right out of high school to retire with a military pension and then begin as a police officer in Worcester. The Public Safety Committee voted during the meeting to amend the petition to increase the age to 40.

Cipro said he’d also like to see city officials re-evaluate residency-in-Worcester requirements.

Making those changes would require the approval of the full city council.

A bill before the state legislature (Massachusetts House Bill 2441) would increase the maximum retirement age for police officers and firefighters from 65 to 67.

The state legislature also has pending bills that would increase in certain municipalities the retirement age of special police officers, who have police academy training but are part-time, to 70.


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