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The University of Pennsylvania’s Police Department is the largest private security force in the state with 116 full-time sworn officers. With its new hiring campaign, the Division of Public Safety plans to maintain this number.

The campaign focuses on creating “a police force representative of our community,” according to Capt. Gerald Leddy, who organizes staff and administrative services at Penn Police.

In addition to filling three current vacancies, said Penn Police Chief Mark Dorsey, DPS plans to create a list of potential officers that will not be hired now, but could immediately fill vacancies as current officers retire or are otherwise lost through “natural attrition.”

Hiring campaigns such as this one occur about once every two years, Dorsey added.

DPS attracted potential applicants through a posting with Penn’s Human Resources, said Leddy.

Recent graduates of local police academies and former Philadelphia Police officers are the main applicant pool, he said, adding that DPS also advertises the openings in small community-based newspapers.

Leddy explained that once applicants have met DPS’ basic prerequisites — a high-school degree or its equivalent and a police certification — they are called in for a panel interview, featuring a current officer as well as a member of the broader Penn community.

Such community members are chosen from leadership positions around the University. Dorsey gave the example of people involved with Makuu — Penn’s black cultural center — and the College House system as prime candidates.

The general question asked of community members, Dorsey said, is: “Is this person someone that I’m going to respect wearing the badge?”

“We know what we’d like to see in a police officer,” Leddy said, but members of the broader community know what they’d like to see in a police officer responding to emergencies.

Candidates that clear the first round of interviews are asked back for second interviews, this time with Dorsey and Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, Leddy explained. From there, he said, officers are hired in accordance with current vacancies, and a list is created to fill vacancies that might arise in the future.

Officers that are hired are then put through a three-week training process to integrate them into the police force, Leddy said.

Dorsey added that a probation period follows the training in order to ensure that recently-hired officers are “acclimating” to the community.

He also said even long-time officers are subject to ongoing education and training.

“We continually work to be the best we can be — all 116 of us,” Dorsey said.

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