Program tapped for potential jail guards

Correction officers applying at the Warren County prison will complete physical fitness and agility tests through the Mercyhurst Public Safety Institute, a new testing agent for municipalities that will conduct preliminary eligibility examinations.

The Warren County Commissioners approved the resolution at their meeting Wednesday morning.

Sheriff Ken Klakamp presented the agreement to the commissioners on Monday during the Prison Board meeting and said the cost of testing would be covered by the applicant.

“The only financial consideration that the county will be exposed to is if they have an idea what the program will cost year-in and year-out,” Commissioner John Bortz said. “If there are some over-runs to the program, all participating municipalities and agencies will share in the over-run.”

The actual costs of participation will be paid by the prospective employees, he reiterated.

Testing new hires at the prison was something the county had discussed, Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco said, adding the program “may be an asset to the county.”

“What this basically is, if we want to hire a prison guard, instead of us testing them, we would send them out, they would pay the fee, and then we would get a report on the various aspects of this testing. Some of it’s physical, some of it’s mental, and it saves us the trouble of trying to develop our own program,” Commissioner John Eggleston said.

Applicants will learn what the requirements to passing the tests are and will have the opportunity to train before the tests to have the maximum opportunity for success, Bortz said.

“I’m in favor of seeing it come through, I think it will help our sheriff’s department and jail,” he said.

According to the agreement, “Mercyhurst University Public Safety Institute shall serve as the financially responsible entity for the testing process with regard to advertising expenditures, written examination contracting, and other miscellaneous expenses. All fee collected from applicants for the testing process shall be made payable to the ‘Mercyhurst University Public Safety Institute’ to compensate for the process expenses. Unanticipated cost over-runs or program solvency shall be shared equally by all participating agencies. The anticipated end result being no cost to the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Police Testing Consortium, or Mercyhurst University Public Safety Institute.”

The testing process for prospective employees will include a “physical agility element and a written examination element” both of which will meet the Municipal Police Officer’s Education and Training Commission, according to the agreement.

The commissioners also approved two local funding resolutions for the Transit Authority of Warren County that will match state finds. A funding resolution for $13,384 for operating expenses and a resolution for $12,000 for advertising expenses was approved.

The funding request was exactly the same as last year, TAWC Director John Aldrich told the commissioners.

“Thank you for your support; without it we’ll struggle quickly,” Aldrich said.

Also approved during the commissioners’ meeting were a proclamation for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week from Sunday, April 6 through Saturday, April 12; a proclamation for Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in April; and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.