By David Denson
An ordinance that would give Gary applicants a leg up on the entrance exams for the Gary Fire and Police Departments was the topic of discussion during the Gary Common Council Public Safety Committee meeting.
The two pieces of legislation sponsored by Sixth District Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade would give 25 points on the departments entrance applications if they are Gary residents.
Following a proposal by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Sparks-Wade agreed to table the action at the May 17 meeting of the council. She suggested that the council consult the Indiana Attorney General for a legal opinion regarding the current legislation and if change can be made. “Now that cuts both ways, because if it is an opinion that you don’t like or don’t agree with; but it is what it is,” said Freeman-Wilson.
Freeman-Wilson reiterated the city’s commitment to providing employment for it’s residents and offered several suggestions on how the effort may relate to an increased involvement on the police and fire department. “There are a monument of programs available that are in existence that would be focused on public safety personnel.”
Over the years the Gary Police Department has been losing officers to departments in surrounding communities that pay more than Gary.
Both Police Chief Larry McKinley and Fire Chief Paul Bradley say they are open to ideas and programs that would provide incentives to bring in more Gary residents.
Sparks-Wade has said she believes the exam bonus would increase the likelihood that Gary residents would be the first ones hired for vacancies.