The New Bedford Police Department is actively seeking to add new officers to the force and has begun an all-out recruiting campaign, beginning with encouraging those considering police work to sign up for the upcoming Massachusetts civil service exam.

Lt. Scott Carola and Sgt. Matthew Rodrigues recently visited WBSM to discuss the civil service exam, including how to apply for it and what to expect from the test.

“There’s never been a better time in my opinion for a young person interested in police work to try and get a position in police work. The field is wide open right now,” Lt. Carola said.

What Makes for a Good Police Officer?

“Somebody who understands that they don’t have any power, they have only responsibility,” Carola said. “It’s someone who is willing to engage the community, a people person, somebody who is out there with the best intentions in their heart and wants to help the people that they come across.”

“Great communication skills, being able to talk to people,” Sgt. Rodrigues said. “That’s going to save you more times than you can believe. You just have to listen to people, hear what they have to say, and have empathy.”

When Is the Civil Service Exam and How Can You Apply?

The civil service exam is scheduled to come up in March for those who wish to become a police officer, but the deadline to apply for the exam is January 17.

To apply, just visit mass.gov/civilservice, create an account, and pay the $75 fee for the entry-level exam.

“If you have a hardship, you can request a waiver,” Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues said once you create the account and sign up, you will receive an email with a test date and a site, with several locations throughout the state.

What Can You Expect From the Civil Service Exam?

“The entry-level exam is based on several factors. There’s a survey you take, a work study history, and then a reasoning portion, which gives you certain scenarios. It’s a multiple choice exam,” Rodrigues said.

You don’t need to know anything about being a police officer to pass the test. All of that training will come later.

“(It’s) just your mental aptitude,” Rodrigues said. “Nothing to do with law. It’s basically like a high school equivalency exam. They just want to see your writing style, how you answer questions, things of that nature.”

“It’s not going to be the kind of test where you need to shy away because you don’t know a lot about law or police procedure or anything like that,” Carola echoed. “This is just a general aptitude test that civil service requires for towns and cities that hire according to the civil service list, just to get your name on the list.

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What Happens After You Take the Civil Service Exam?

“After you take the exam, you list your hometown department, or where you would like to work, and they generate a list based on your test score,” Rodrigues said.

Your name will remain on the list for one year.

“In the past, you had to wait every two years to take a police exam, but they’ve now changed it to be every year,” Carola said. “But that also means if you decide in June to become a police officer, you’re going to have to wait until next year to take the test.”

“If this is something you’re considering, take the test,” he said. “It’s a relatively small investment to make in your future to sign up for the test and take it on a Saturday morning.”

How to Prepare for the Civil Service Exam

Rodrigues said the place to start preparing for the exam is at the Mass.gov civil service page.

“There is a study guide to prepare for the test,” he said. “It gives you example questions and basically breaks down the test and the different sections, and gives you examples on how you should answer these questions going forward.”

Carola said the New Bedford Police Department is also taking exam prep a step further, with a study program that will begin prior to the examination date.

“If you get your name on the eligibility list, we’ll pick a date that works for everyone and we’ll do a practice exam along with them,” he said. “We’ll go through the questions, and we’ll explain why this is a right answer. Sometimes it’s important to know why an answer is wrong just as much as it is right.”

Do You Have to Live in New Bedford to Work for the NBPD?

“There is a residency requirement, but as of right now, the current list we’re working on, we’re working on out-of-town residents,” Rodrigues said. “If you put down that you’re willing to work in New Bedford, you’ll be put on our eligibility list, and eventually we will get to you.”

Why New Bedford Police Are So Actively Promoting the Civil Service Exam

“Police work, years ago it used to sell itself, there was no reason to kind of sound the alarm and let people know there were positions available because the line was wrapped around the building,” Carola said. “But just like every other industry out there right now, it’s a struggle to hire, it’s a struggle to retain. We’re not unique in that, but we are an industry that is really kind of learning right now just how to recruit and how to kind of sell a job that in the past sold itself. This is just one of the ways to do it.”

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