5-1 Recruitment and Selection

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department          

Initial Policy Approved: 1/30/2014

Current Revision Approved: 9/21/2023

 

Equal Opportunity Employment Policy

It is the policy of the VCU Police Department (VCUPD) to assure equal employment opportunity to its employees and applicants for employment on the basis of fitness and merit, without regard for race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.

This policy shall be followed in recruiting, hiring, promotion into all classifications, compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, returns from layoff, demotions, terminations, training, educational leave, social and recreational programs, and use of facilities.

It is not the intent of this policy to permit or require the lowering of bona fide job requirements or qualification standards to give preference to any employee or applicant for employment. However, positive affirmative measures shall be taken to recruit qualified minorities, females, and disabled persons to all levels of the department where underutilization is reflected. Regardless of position, all elements of the selection process shall be administered, scored, and interpreted in a uniform manner. All elements of the selection process shall use rating criteria and/or job-related and nondiscriminatory minimum qualifications. Furthermore, all components of the selection process shall be documented to support candidate selection decisions as they are consistently and equitably applied.

 

Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive.  Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action.  Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.

 

General Selection Guidelines

  1. VCUPD maintains written job descriptions for each position in the organization, to include the job duties and responsibilities as well as the knowledge, skills and abilities required to carry out those duties and responsibilities. Written job descriptions are available for all classified staff on the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Human Resources website located at https://www.dhrm.virginia.gov/jobs-and-careers/jobs-and-salary-structure/occupational-families. Written job descriptions are available for all University employees on VCU Human Resource’s (VCUHR) website located at https://jobsummarytool.vcu.edu/.
  2. Employment opportunities for all positions will be advertised on the VCU Jobs website located at https://www.vcujobs.com/.
  3. All employees and applicants requesting consideration for employment shall submit an online application through the VCU Jobs website listed above.
    1. Applications shall not be rejected because of basic omissions or deficiencies that can be corrected prior to the selection process.
    2. Civilian employees requesting consideration for promotion to a position in another job classification or transfer to a position in the same or another job classification shall submit a VCU application.
    3. Sworn employees requesting consideration for promotion or transfer to a civilian position shall submit a VCU application.
  4. Applications shall be accepted only during the period of time that a vacant position is advertised except for positions that are approved for continuous recruitment. Additionally, applications shall be reviewed only for a specific position; separate applications are required for consideration for other positions.
  5. All job announcements and recruitment notices shall include the following:
    1. A description of job duties, responsibilities, requisite skills, educational level, and other minimum qualifications or requirements
    2. A statement that the department is an equal opportunity employer
    3. A statement that a polygraph examination, background investigation, fingerprint-based criminal investigation, and pre-employment drug screening is required for civilian positions, if applicable
    4. A statement that a physical fitness assessment, written examination, polygraph examination, background investigation, fingerprint-based criminal investigation, psychological evaluations, and pre-employment physical with drug screening is required for sworn positions
    5. Notification to designated positions that a Personal Statement of Economic Interests form must be completed annually
    6. Official application filing deadlines, if any
    7. Notification of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) status, such as an exempt or non-exempt classification
  6. The Training and Education Division/hiring manager shall advertise employment opportunities through electronic, print or other media, as appropriate, with VCUHR’s assistance as needed.
  7. At the time of formal application, the Training and Education Division/hiring manager shall use the recruitment management system or direct correspondence to inform all position applicants of all of the following:
    1. All elements of the selection process
    2. The expected duration of the selection process
    3. The policy for reapplication
    4. Applicant status
  8. The Training and Education Division/hiring manager shall maintain contact with applicants for all positions from the initial application to final employment disposition through the recruitment management system or direct correspondence with the applicant.
  9. If applicants are not selected for employment, the Training and Education Division/hiring manager shall notify them through the recruitment management system or direct correspondence.
  10. Before a conditional or verbal offer of employment is made, a background investigation shall be conducted on the candidate by an employee or an investigator who has received training in collecting required information. (Refer to the subsection below entitled Background Investigation for further guidance.)
    1. When the finalist for a civilian position is a current employee of the department, no background investigation shall be necessary unless the employee is moving from a non-sensitive position to a sensitive position.
    2. The investigation of former sworn employees shall consist of an updated pre-employment investigation to cover the period since separation.
  11. Prior to the effective hire date of selected applicants, a 10-print fingerprint scan shall be taken for employment with the department, to include those current employees changing positions, including promotions.
    1. The fingerprints shall be searched in the Central Criminal Records Exchange and in the Identification Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ascertain if the selected applicant/employee has a criminal record.
    2. The fingerprints of selected applicants and employees shall be stored in the Central Criminal Records Exchange files for comparison with incoming arrest fingerprint cards. In the event a fingerprint card of an applicant or employee matches an incoming arrest fingerprint card, the Training and Education Division/hiring manager shall notify the appropriate supervisor and proceed in accordance with state code.

 

Civilian Selection Procedures

  1. All employees and applicants requesting consideration for employment shall submit an on-line application through the recruitment management system.
  2. All applications received for advertised positions shall be screened in accordance with established criteria related to the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the position(s).
    1. NOTE:  Qualified applicants seeking Dispatch positions shall undergo job-related pre-employment tests to assess suitability for the dispatcher position prior to moving forward in the process.  Successful applicants may be invited to continue to the interview stage.
  3. Interviews on the top candidates shall be conducted by panel as follows:
    1. A set of job-related, core questions shall be formulated and consistently asked of each candidate
    2. Individuals conducting interviews should normally occupy a position(s) at a higher-grade level than the advertised position
    3. Individuals who are authorized to make a selection decision must occupy a position(s) at a higher-grade level than the advertised position
    4. Interviews shall be documented to include interview questions and notes on applicant responses; test materials, if applicable; evaluation and narrative assessment and recommendation of each candidate regarding their suitability for employment
  4. A second interview with senior VCUPD management may be conducted. This interview could be a one-on-one or panel interview.
  5. Following successful completion of the interview process, the background investigation and the following required tests shall be completed as follows for the final, top candidates:
    1. Applicants for Property and Evidence unit positions will be required to complete a polygraph examination
    2. Applicants could be required to take a battery of job-related pre-employment tests, such as written, typing, and word processing tests, if required for a specific position
  6. Applicants successful in all phases of the selection process may be offered employment, pending VCUHR approval. VCUHR reviews and approves the recruitment and selection process; VCUHR authorizes whether a verbal offer of employment may be extended by the hiring manager. The applicant’s response is provided to VCUHR.
  7. If the applicant accepts the offer of employment, VCUHR will send the official VCU final offer letter, which must be signed, dated and returned to VCUHR before it is considered finalized.
  8. Fingerprinting requirements are provided to the new employee by the hiring manager. The results of these requirements must be received by VCUHR prior to the effective date of hire. If the result is not received before the effective date of hire, the date of hire will be delayed.
  9. Drug screening requirements are provided to the new Property and Evidence unit employee by the hiring manager. The results of these requirements must be received by VCUPD prior to the effective date of hire. If the result is not received before the effective date of hire, the date of hire will be delayed.
  10. Re-Employment of Former Civilian Employees:
    1. The applicant must have separated from the department in good standing.
    2. Applicants separated from the department for less than 30 days may submit a letter to the Chief of Police requesting to be reinstated. If their previously held position is still vacant and the hiring manager for that position recommends that they be reinstated, a background investigation consisting of a VCIN/NCIC check will be conducted. With the Chief of Police’s approval, their personnel records will then be updated to reflect their absence as a leave of absence without pay status.
    3. Applicants separated from the department for more than 30 days must apply for a position in active recruitment status before the recruitment closing date and participate in the hiring process.
      1. The background investigation shall include a VCIN/NCIC check.
      2. Applicants for a Property and Evidence unit position shall be required to undergo a polygraph examination.

 

Civilian Selection Criteria

  1. Applicants applying for civilian positions that require VCIN access must be a United States citizen or must have been a lawful resident of the United States for the past 10 consecutive years.
  2. Dispatcher candidates must meet all of the following minimum physical qualifications:
    1. Ability to perform in a 24 hour/7 day a week setting
    2. Ability to perform in a confined area with limited mobility
    3. Ability to sit for extended periods of time with limited breaks
  3. Promotional consideration or voluntary transfer – competitive (civilian) will not be given to a candidate who has any of the following:
    1. More than one active Group I Written Notice (classified staff) or Written Warning I (university staff)
    2. Any active Group II or Group III Written Notice (classified staff) or Written Warning II (university staff)
    3. A current performance evaluation lower than “successful”
    4. A current probationary progress review rating of “needs improvement”

 

Sworn Recruitment Criteria

  1. Candidates for sworn positions must meet all of the following minimum qualifications:
    1. Twenty-one years of age as of the date of hire
    2. S. citizenship by the assigned testing day
    3. Have graduated from high school or received an equivalent educational certificate from an accredited source
    4. Have a good character and reputation as established by a background investigation to include a polygraph examination, educational achievements, prior work experience, character and reputation, credit history, fingerprint search, driving record, military history, and police record
    5. Demonstrate competent driving skills and obtain a valid Virginia motor vehicle operator’s license on offer of employment
    6. Be willing to serve on any assigned shift
    7. Pass the physical fitness assessment, written test and post offer health requirements
    8. Submit to drug screening
    9. Possess at least 20/20 binocular vision, corrected or uncorrected, and if uncorrected visual acuity is 20/100 or better binocular and 20/200 or better in the worst eye
    10. Have no color vision deficiency with or without corrective lense(s) when tested by the Ishihara color vision test and/or the Farnsworth D-15 color vision test, and if the candidate uses an X-chrome lens to pass the test, the X-chrome lens must be worn for all job-related duties
    11. Capable of hearing normal frequencies of 500, 1000, 2000, and 3000 hertz at a pure tone level of 25 decibels or less and no greater than 45 decibels at 4000 and 6000 hertz in each ear without hearing aids when checked by the Audiometer Test
    12. Additional evaluations by an outside medical specialist may be needed and will be obtained at the individual’s expense

 

Sworn Selection Process

  1. All employees and applicants requesting consideration for employment shall submit an online application through the VCU Jobs website located at https://www.vcujobs.com/.
  2. The selection process for police officer applicants will be based on specific job-related factors as determined by the following process. This process shall include uniform assessments to measure characteristics, skills, knowledge, abilities and traits that are necessary for a candidate to be successful as a sworn officer.
    1. PHASE I
      1. Applications received will be screened based on job-related selection criteria.  Qualified applicants will be invited to participate in Phase II.
    2. PHASE II
      1. Applicants will undergo a physical fitness assessment.  Qualified applicants will be invited to participate in Phase III.  Applicants not meeting the requirements of the physical fitness assessment will be disqualified.
    3. PHASE III
      1. Applicants will undergo a written examination and participate in an initial, one-on-one interview with Training and Education staff. The applicant will be screened based upon a series of questions related to their background according to the characteristics, skills, knowledge, abilities and traits that are necessary for a candidate to be successful as a sworn officer. Qualified applicants will be given a background investigation packet and an online background questionnaire code with a deadline for completion. Applicants not passing the written examination, or not meeting the criteria of the initial interview, or not submitting the online questionnaire, will be disqualified.
    4. PHASE IV
      1. Applicants will undergo a thorough background investigation that includes an analysis from the online questionnaire and from the investigation conducted by sworn officers. Qualified applicants will be invited to move forward to Phase V. Applicants not successful in the background investigation will be disqualified. (Refer to the subsection below entitled Background Investigation for further guidance.)
    5. PHASE V
      1. Applicants will undergo a polygraph examination. Qualified applicants may advance to Phase VI.  Unsuccessful applicants will not be eligible for employment. (Refer to the subsection below entitled Polygraph Examination for further guidance.)
    6. PHASE VI
      1. Applicants will participate in an online psychological evaluation and a ride-along with a VCUPD officer. Applicants not successful with the online psychological evaluation will be disqualified.
    7. PHASE VII
      1. Applicants having successfully completed Phase VI of the selection process will advance to Phase VII, which is an in-person psychological assessment and evaluation.  Applicants not successful in the psychological evaluation will be disqualified. (Refer to the subsection below entitled Psychological Evaluation and Medical Examination for further guidance.)
    8. PHASE VIII
      1. Applicants will appear before an oral board for a panel interview.  Applicants will be ranked and screened further for the characteristics, skills, knowledge, abilities and traits that are necessary for a candidate to be successful as a sworn officer by a diverse panel made up of sworn and civilian employees from the department and/or the university.  Phase VIII leads to a review of the applicants by the Training Division to determine the most qualified candidates who may be referred to the Chief for interview.
    9. PHASE IX
      1. The Chief of Police and/or their designee will review the files of qualified applicants selected for employment. If the Chief concurs with the Training Division’s selection, the Chief will meet with the applicant and make a final determination.
    10. PHASE X – CONDITIONAL OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT
      1. A conditional offer of employment may be extended to applicants for sworn positions by the Chief of Police. The conditional offer may be for the Law Enforcement Apprentice Program, the next academy class, or in the case of selecting a pre-certified applicant, a sworn position.
      2. The conditional offer is contingent upon satisfactorily passing a complete physical examination by a department-approved physician, a drug screening test, and fingerprinting. Basic physical requirements shall be confirmed through a physical examination by the physician and shall include a predetermined laboratory analysis of body fluids such as urine to determine the presence of drugs in the system.
    11. PHASE XI – OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT
      1. Applicants successful in all phases may be offered employment, pending VCUHR approval. VCUHR reviews and approves the recruitment and selection process; VCUHR authorizes whether a verbal offer of employment may be extended by the Training Division. The applicant’s response is provided to VCUHR.
      2. If the applicant accepted the offer of employment, VCUHR will send the official VCU final offer letter, which must be signed, dated and returned to VCUHR before it is considered finalized.
    12. PHASE XII
      1. The physical examination, drug screening and fingerprinting requirements are provided to the new employee by the Training Division. The results of these requirements must be received by VCUPD prior to the effective date of hire. If any one result is not received before the effective date of hire, the date of hire will be delayed.
      2. Prior to the date of hire, the Training Division will send a copy of the applicable Training Contract and the training cost formula to each new employee.
  3. Re-Employment of Sworn Officers to include Part-Time Officers
    1. Former sworn employees are eligible for full-time or part-time re-employment with VCUPD, given that the following criteria are met:
      1. The former sworn employee must have separated from the department while in good standing.
      2. Long-term disability participants are inactive employees of the department and their position is not guaranteed upon release to return to work. Non-work-related long-term disability participants will follow the re-employment policy like any other employee who has separated from the department, whether their position is vacant or not. Upon release to return to work, the long-term disability participant will be separated, and they may apply for rehire.
      3. For service incurred disabilities, the Chief will have the discretion to reappoint a long-term disability participant. If the vacated position is no longer available, reappointment will be to a similar position.  Background investigations for work-related long-term disability participants will be at the discretion of the Chief.  Any required certifications and training must be updated.
        1. An employee on work-related long-term disability should submit a letter to the Chief requesting reinstatement when they are released to return to work. The letter should give preference of three locations for assignment.  A letter from the treating physician releasing the employee to return to work full-time, full-duty should be attached to the letter.
        2. Re-entry position(s) shall be that of a police officer.
    2. Former sworn employees must apply to be considered for re-employment and will be given consideration along with all other applicants, except as outlined below.
    3. An application and a letter to the Chief requesting re-employment will be accepted at any time from former sworn employees who have separated from the department less than 48 months or transferred to a civilian position in the department less than 48 months. Based upon department needs, these applicants may be employed, provided they meet the requirements of a sworn officer.  They will be re-hired at the rank of officer if they resigned at this rank or higher.  Continued employment will be contingent upon successful completion of the required training followed by a one-year probationary period.
    4. Former sworn employees who do not currently work in law enforcement positions and have been separated from the department 48 months or longer will be required to submit a VCU application and letter to the Chief requesting re-employment. They shall be required to successfully complete the entire hiring process and be considered for the next academy class.
    5. Applicants will be considered for re-employment based on their qualifications and previous performance while with the department. If the applicant is not recommended, a letter from the applicant’s last Division Commander indicating the reason(s) for denial will be forwarded to the Training Division.  If the applicant is recommended, the Training and Education Division will be notified and the applicant will be moved to the next phase.
    6. For former sworn employees, applicants who have been separated less than 12 months shall be required to submit to a supplemental background investigation, a medical evaluation, and drug screening. If their separation has been for a period of 12 months or longer, in addition to the requirements for an applicant who has been separated less than 12 months, they will also be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and a polygraph examination.
      1. Any applicant who has been employed as a sworn law enforcement officer from the time of their separation from the department shall not undergo a polygraph examination regardless of the length of time they have been separated.
    7. Applicants will complete any training/certifications necessary in compliance with Department of Criminal Justice Services' certification requirements and an evaluation of previous training and experience as determined by the Training Division.

 

Background Investigation

  1. Background investigations shall be conducted of each candidate for employment for all positions prior to appointment. The background investigation shall include the following:
    1. Verification of qualifying credentials;
    2. A review of any criminal record;
      1. For all positions, VCUHR’s HireRight process is utilized
      2. For civilian Property and Evidence unit and sworn positions, an additional VCIN/NCIC check is conducted
    3. Verification of any prior criminal justice employment including terms of separation; and
    4. Verification of at least three (for sworn positions; minimum of two for civilian positions) professional references, with one being that of the current or most recent supervisor.
  2. Background investigations for civilian Property and Evidence unit and sworn positions will be conducted by sworn officers trained in background investigations procedures, whenever possible.  In the event that a trained background investigator is not available (i.e., large hiring processes requiring multiple investigators), sworn officers shall receive on the job training in the process and work in tandem with trained background investigators to ensure compliance with applicable legal restrictions on areas that are subject to inquiry during a background investigation

 

Polygraph Examination

  1. Polygraph examinations are conducted by a department-approved polygraph examiner for all sworn positions and civilian positions in the Property & Evidence unit. Polygraph examiners must be graduates of a department-approved polygraph school and licensed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
  2. Applicants undergoing polygraph examinations shall be provided with a list of areas from which polygraph questions will be drawn, prior to the examination.
  3. The results of polygraph examinations shall not be used as the single determinant of employment status.

 

Psychological Evaluation and Medical Examination (Fitness Examinations)

VCUPD conducts psychological and physical examinations (fitness examinations) of all applicants for sworn positions through the use of licensed and qualified medical professionals. VCUPD conducts the psychological examination during the application process and the physical examination after it makes a conditional job offer to the applicant. Examinations are required for all applicants in the sworn job category. VCUPD conducts examinations in the following manner:

  1. Each examination includes an individualized assessment by a medical professional in cooperation with VCU officials.
  2. Examinations and evaluations shall be conducted by licensed and qualified medical professionals who meet all legal requirements to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  3. All medical examinations are conducted in accordance with The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s (ACOEM) Guidance for the Medical Evaluation of Law Enforcement Officers, and all psychological evaluations are conducted in accordance with the International Association of Chiefs of Police Psychological Fitness-for-Duty Evaluation Guidelines, to the extent such guidance is consistent with applicable law.
    1. Physicians examine applicants physically to determine whether applicants are fit to perform the necessary requirements of the sworn police officer position.
    2. Mental health professionals examine applicants to determine whether applicants are mentally fit to perform the necessary requirements of the sworn police officer position.
  4. VCU makes reasonable accommodations in the administration of tests for known disabilities of an otherwise qualified individual applicant, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship.
  5. The medical professionals submit the results of their fitness examination to authorized VCU officials.
  6. VCU officials and the medical professionals use the fitness examinations in a manner that ensures that test results accurately reflect the skills, aptitude or other items being measured, rather than just reflecting an applicant’s or employee’s impairment. To that end, VCU ensures that each examination and inquiry is based in a specific job requirement or several combined job requirements.
  7. VCU may request medical information from the applicant if it has any objective evidence (including but not limited to, the results of a fitness examination) that produces a reasonable belief that the applicant is unable to perform the essential job functions.
  8. VCU officials consider all available evidence, including application materials, written examinations, physical fitness assessments, interviews, polygraph examinations and fitness examinations in making final hiring decisions.
  9. If fitness examinations reveal any physical or mental factor that would disqualify an applicant, VCU officials will consider whether any reasonable accommodation would rectify the disqualifying factor.
  10. VCU does not make accommodations that would cause an undue hardship or would fundamentally alter the nature or requirements of the job.
  11. VCU keeps fitness examination materials and medical information confidential unless required or authorized to disclose by law or applicable policy. (Refer to subsection below entitled Record Keeping.)
  12. The medical examination includes a drug screening portion that may be conducted at a later time, closer to the candidate’s potential hire date.

 

Recordkeeping

  1. Documentation provides an audit trail of the selection process and is required of all selection decisions.
  2. Documentation regarding individual candidates shall be maintained in accordance with the Library of Virginia Records Retention program as outlined in Written Directive 3-6 Records Management.
  3. The following selection records shall be maintained for a minimum of three years in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and guidelines:
    1. Applications for employment
    2. Position description
    3. Recruitment efforts/advertisements
    4. EEO data
    5. Screening and selection criteria
    6. Interview questions
    7. Notes on applicant responses
    8. Background investigations, reference checks, polygraph reports, medical evaluations, and/or psychological evaluations of applicants, if conducted
    9. Basis for selection/non-selection
  4. The selection records noted above shall be maintained by the following:
    1. Training and Education Division:
      1. Non-selected sworn applicants – all records noted
      2. Selected sworn applicants – the recruitment process records (C.1-6 above)
    2. Emergency Communications Center
      1. Selected and non-selected – all records noted
    3. Personnel Coordinator/Timekeeper
      1. Selected sworn applicants – the recruitment process records (C.7-9 above)
      2. All other civilian recruitment processes – all records noted

NOTE: The polygraph record of any applicant selected for employment is maintained in the Personnel Coordinator/Timekeeper’s files, separate from the employee’s official personnel file.

 

Revision History

1/30/2014 - 5-1 Recruitment and Selection

1/01/2018 - 5-1 Recruitment and Selection