Easier Residency Requirements Means More Applicants

Officers who wear the Gulfport Police uniform no longer have to live in Harrison County. Anyone who lives in the six southern counties can apply for city jobs. The city council changed the residency requirement last month at the request of some department heads. "A lot of qualified candidates from surrounding counties didn't wanna leave their homes, didn't wanna leave their families to move over to Harrison County," says Paul Bennett of the Gulfport Police Department. Now that that is no longer a concern, Bennett says more applicants showed up for the civil service test earlier this week. "We had 140 applicants who submitted applications. We had a pretty good turnout...we had 57 show up to take the test and historically that's been a real good turnout for us," Bennett says.

The Gulfport Fire Chief says the old rules forced department heads to make do with whoever applied, or else be short staffed. Chief Pat Sullivan says, "We were in a situation where we didn't have people applying for the fire department and it was causin' us problems. We were not getting, I think the last test we gave we had actually three people pass the process out of an initial 60 people that applied." Sullivan says of the 162 people who are now looking for a job with the fire department, 19 live outside Harrison County. Sullivan says, "We're hoping that by having more applicants having a bigger pool to choose from that we'll have better applicants, we'll have better quality people that actually get hired."

Gulfport's mayor says the more lenient residency requirement will make recruiting easier for all departments.