Montague Police Department considers Civil Service exit

  • The Montague Public Safety Complex on Turnpike Road. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 4/3/2022 2:23:21 PM
Modified: 4/3/2022 2:22:43 PM

MONTAGUE — Following on the heels of Greenfield, Orange and Athol, the Montague Police Department is looking to leave the state’s Civil Service municipal employee hiring program to broaden its candidate pool.

The Civil Service program, which Police Chief Christopher Williams said Montague has been enrolled in since 1932, provides that “state and municipal employees may be hired and promoted under the civil service merit system” and that “the Civil Service Commission hears and decides appeals of public employees.” Should the Police Department have this request approved at the May 7 Annual Town Meeting, it would have increased flexibility as to who it could hire while maintaining appropriate hiring standards, according to Williams.

“Really what it does is make the hiring process much quicker and it gives us a much broader range of applicants,” he explained.

The department’s pitch comes amid a recent history of staff shortages, as well as departures from the Civil Service program by other local communities. Williams said just five prospective officers who took the exam mandated by the Civil Service program over the two previous two-year examination windows chose Montague as their community to serve.

“Less and less people want to be police officers,” Williams said, “so the pool from Civil Service is shrinking.”

Should Montague Police exit the program, the department would be able to streamline its hiring process, Williams argued.

“Rather than taking a test and being placed on a list, we could just advertise an open position, get applicants, and form a review board or interview board to interview the person. … Anybody new coming in won’t have to take the Civil Service exam or go through their process, which will really broaden our pool.”

Ariel Elan, who participated in Montague’s Police Equity and Use of Force Advisory Group and attended last week’s Selectboard meeting where Williams explained his plan, endorsed the idea.

“In working with the police community committees last year, I really learned a great deal about the necessity, really, of being able to hire locally when local people apply,” she explained. “People who have a history with the community who grow up in grade school or high school thinking, ‘Wow, the thing I want to do for my town is be a police officer,’ you really want and need the leeway to get those people who already have a familiarity, relationships and commitment to the town into the hiring process.”

Town Administrator Steve Ellis advised that Williams’ request is on the radars of appropriate officials.

“It is on our agenda, and the police union is aware and advised of it,” he said, “so everyone is rowing in the same direction on this at this point in time, which is different than some of the historical conversations about things like leaving Civil Service.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy