With the retirement next month of Bexley police officer Joe Wayne, a 31-year veteran of the department, police Chief Larry Rinehart has been given the green light to start the hiring process.

With the retirement next month of Bexley police officer Joe Wayne, a 31-year veteran of the department, police Chief Larry Rinehart has been given the green light to start the hiring process.

The Bexley Civil Service Commission gave Rinehart the go-ahead on May 19, and the new hire test will be conducted July 25 at Bexley High School.

The hiring process is detailed on the city's Web site: www.bexley.org.

Rinehart said he hopes to find enough good candidates during the process to replace the next few police officers who leave. He said he likes to maintain a list of qualified candidates.

"We have exhausted every viable candidate on the list," he said. "I am hopeful that we may create a strong and long enough list to hire in 2011."

Rinehart would like to see a new officer hired as soon as possible. The city may end up hiring an officer who hasn't been through the police academy or a new officer who would be required to participate in an eight-month field training program.

The most important characteristics for the new police officer are character and integrity, Rinehart said. He is also looking for a candidate with great communication skills and someone interested in being a community-oriented police officer.

"That is a unique skill set we are looking for," he said. "I'm determined to only hire the best."

Bexley currently has 28 sworn police officers, including the chief and deputy chief. There are a total of 35 full-time department employees, including officers, dispatchers and animal and parking control personnel, Rinehart said.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com