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Selectmen Back Chief on Removing Civil Service

Selectmen agreed with Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin's February 22 recommendation to them that Milford should leave the Civil Service system for hiring and promoting police personnel and instead rely on a local system. The process to do that would be for Town Meeting Members to petition the state legislature for home rule authority to opt out of the state system, the chief explained. "In the long run, I think it's going to be beneficial to the department," O'Loughlin said.

The chief wrote a seven-page memo to the Board of Selectmen on February 1 listing his reasons for wanting to opt out of the state's Civil Service process and repeated them to the board members later in the month. "I believe it will greatly benefit us" in terms of hiring, promotion and discipline, O'Loughlin said. "I believe we can do better."

Among his reasons for wanting to leave Civil Service were the length of time it takes for the state agency to administer hiring and promotional exams and the restrictions it places on whom he could hire or promote. For example, Civil Service currently does not allow a community to have a preference for multi-lingual officers, which Milford desires, the chief said.

Four of our six neighbors are non-Civil Service," O'Loughlin said. Out of the state's 351 cities and towns, only 158 have Civil Service and 55 of those communities are cities which must stick with it. That leaves roughly 100 towns using Civil Service, but two-thirds do not, he explained.

The shift would have no impact on any current employees. "Nothing changes. Their status remains the same," O'Loughlin said. To Selectmen Chairman Brian Murray's question, the chief responded that the change does have to be bargained with the local police union. That bargaining could be done on a parallel track with the schedule leading up to the Annual own Meeting and discussions already were scheduled with the union, O'Loughlin said.

Milford would create its own hiring and promotional processes and exams, he explained, with more of a focus on local needs. "The cornerstone of any process is ethics," he said. The selectmen, union and community would be involved in creating the new system, O'Loughlin said.

Murray said that if the board takes the question to Town Meeting Members, the new hiring and promotional processes should be completed enough so that people can look at the differences between Civil Service and what would be replacing it.


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