Currently, the Chattanooga City Code is written so that it will exclude many members of the military who have served and retired honorably after 20 years from joining the police and fire departments. City code section 16.2 states “The city shall not employ as a police officer or firefighter of any rank any person who is less than twenty-one (21) years of age or who has reached his or her fortieth (40th) birthday…”. This code will preclude many honorably retired veterans who could still be of great value to Chattanooga. Take for example someone who served honorably, entered the military at the age of eighteen, and now wants to join the police force. If they retire just after their twentieth anniversary, they will be 38, potentially very close to 39 years old. First, most military personnel do not live nearby as most large military bases and people who serve on them are not near this area. Those seeking to enter the academy here must travel to Chattanooga to complete the process multiple times. The entire process to be eligible and approved for a police academy is very lengthy, often takes up to or even potentially more than a year. That would place the military veteran at thirty-nine at least. Once approved, they must wait for an academy to start. The current academy was delayed multiple times. The job posting was listed in 2011, but the actual academy did not begin until January of 2013. Within that wait, many veterans will age out of eligibility, even if they have only been honorably discharged from the military for a year or so. This should not exclude such valuable members of our society who have only recently separated from the military.
We, the undersigned, do not agree with this policy, and request that the city of Chattanooga amend the current city code so that any veteran who was honorably separated from the military, regardless of age, and is fully capable of adhering to all physical standards and demands of the class, be eligible to apply and be hired by the Chattanooga police and fire departments.
We further request that the city correct this policy forthwith so that eligible veterans will be able to attend the next police academy, should they be able to complete the hiring process, scheduled to start in the fall of 2013.