Civil service entry-level law enforcement exam announced for 2022

Testing Update

On Jan. 3, 2022, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (NJ CSC) issued examination announcements for Entry Level Law Enforcement (LEE) titles. While this announcement was highly anticipated, it has come with some significant changes as compared to the announcement issued for the previous exam in 2019. Previously, applicants filed one application, selected the titles that they were interested in and when the results were issued, the successful applicants were placed in a “pool.” Now, applicants must file a separate application for each particular job and title they are interested in. Under the new process, the NJ CSC has issued individual entry-level exam announcements for each specific department.

For example, if a person is interested in being a police officer in Town A, Town B and Town C and is also interested in being a sheriff’s officer in County A, the person must file four separate applications, one for each department they are interested in. However, the same examination is used for all of the different departments and titles they file an application for. In the example provided, the applicant would take one exam and would be on the list for all four departments. In short, candidates will only have one opportunity to take the upcoming examination, regardless of the number of postings that they apply for.

Applications can be submitted now and will only be accepted through the NJ CSC Online Application System at: Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2022, and the fee for each application is $35. Candidates will receive a confirmation email from the NJ CSC for each application that is completed and successfully submitted with the required fee. I always recommend that applications be submitted well in advance of the posted deadline. Bilingual entry-level positions are included in this announcement, but interested candidates for these positions must also complete a separate application for the particular bilingual announcement.

Another significant change is that the applicant must review the individual announcement for the department they are interested in to determine whether they meet the eligibility requirements posted for that specific department. Some jurisdictions require you to live in a specific municipality to be eligible for a position, while other jurisdictions allow you to live in a nearby town within the same county to be eligible for that position. Due to variations in residency requirements, applicants must ensure they are using the correct residency code on their application.

It is also important to note that the NJ CSC does not assess a candidate’s eligibility when they are filing the online application. Therefore, a person can complete an application and pay the fee for employment in a department for which they would not be eligible. Accordingly, a careful review of each individual announcement in the section of the announcement labeled “Open to Residents of” is necessary before an application is filed.

With respect to residency, the information submitted with the online application will be used to place the applicant’s name in the appropriate tier for the municipal, county or state eligibility listed for each department where they applied. Applicants must be a legal resident of the jurisdiction used for residency, as of the announcement closing date, which is Feb. 28, 2022. However, some jurisdictions require the residency eligibility to be satisfied by the date of appointment, so it is always best to ensure that residency is established as of the closing date to be certain a disqualification will not occur. The only way to definitively determine residency requirements is to check with each specific jurisdiction.

Since eligibility normally needs to be established as of the closing date of the announcement (Feb. 28, 2022), the NJ CSC does not allow applicants to change their residency code after the closing date — even if you change your address. According to the NJ CSC, if you change your address and live in another jurisdiction after the closing date, you may not be eligible for appointment in your former or new jurisdiction. Since this exam is only offered every few years, I recommend that anyone interested in becoming a law enforcement officer begin the process by taking an interest in the exam application procedures and the specific eligibility rules that apply.

While no specific exam dates have been announced, the NJ CSC has tentatively scheduled this exam to be administered in spring 2022. An Entry-Level Exam Administration Guide is expected to be posted on the NJ CSC website soon and will explain the exam administration process.

Although the last entry-level exam was administered in 2019, applying a similar exam administration timeframe to the current announcement means we can expect the exam to be administered in May and June of 2022. It should be noted that this is not a guarantee, and only the NJ CSC official announcements should be used when they are released.

It is also anticipated that the NJ CSC will use SignUpGenius or a similar system to allow candidates to select the date and location where they will take the exam about four to six weeks prior to the actual exam administration dates. During the previous entry exam cycle, the test was administered on seven separate Saturdays at various locations throughout the state. Candidates were allowed to select their preference for a morning or afternoon exam. They were also able to choose between taking the test in the following counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Ocean and Union.

Ed Esposito is a captain at the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and the vice president of Essex County Sheriff’s Officers Local 183A.