WORCESTER – Mayor Joe Petty released a statement on Tuesday calling on City Manager Eric Batista to conduct a review of hiring practices for police chiefs in municipalities across Massachusetts.
Petty also said that Batista should consider various options, including the possibility of creating the position of Public Safety Commissioner.
“We have an opportunity here to build on the city’s progress by looking at how we choose police chiefs in the future,” Petty said. “We should weigh our current method of selecting a chief versus other communities’ methods and best practices.”
Worcester is part of the civil service system in Massachusetts, which is governed by civil service law in Chapter 31 of Massachusetts General Laws and additional regulations. It uses standardized testing scores, veteran status, residency, tenure, and other factors to determine who is eligible for hiring or promotion . Its regulations cover the chief in cities across Massachusetts.
The Civil Service Commission hears appeals by public employees who claim unfair treatment under the law.
A commissioner that worked in the city manager’s office would not be subject to civil service.
Civil service laws permit only eligible candidates are hired or promoted. For example, the City of Worcester could not conduct a nationwide search for the next police chief and hire an out of state candidate, even if it believed that was the best candidate, because of civil service regulations.
Municipalities can opt-out of the civil service system. Forty municipalities in Massachusetts have done so.
On December 13, 2021, the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee unanimously voted to recommend the city opt-out of civil service and hold hearings on the topic. The committee studied the topic for a year.
In July, Batista told Spectrum News that he had established a committee to evaluate over six months the elimination of civil service.