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Mass. police officer seeks age waiver to take fire department test

A Haverhill officer is one of two people challenging a maximum age requirement in a civil service test


Haverhill, Mass. police vehicles.

Haverhill Police Department/Facebook

By Mike LaBella
The Eagle-Tribune

HAVERHILL, Mass. — One female Haverhill police officer is looking to trade in her service pistol for an axe in hopes of becoming a firefighter, while a Haverhill man who worked for the court system and in security jobs wants to become a police officer.

Both are seeking age waivers to take their respective Civil Service exams and are seeking help from the City Council.

When it meets Tuesday night, the council is expected to vote on submitting Home Rule Petitions to the state Legislature on behalf of Haverhill Police Patrolwoman Christina Rodriguez and Haverhill resident Gustavo Romero.

A petition is required for applicants who are older than 32 at the time of the exam. The Home Rule Petition allows cities like Haverhill to request special authority for purposes like this.

Both Rodriguez and Romero sought the support of Ward 7 City Councilor Catherine Rogers in bringing their petitions to the council.

“I recommend waiving the age limit to allow Christina Rodriguez to become a firefighter and for Gustavo Romero to become a police officer,” Rogers said.

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Rodriguez, who turned 32 in April, plans to take the Firefighters Civil Service exam this October and worries her paperwork might not be finalized until after she turns 33.

“I’m seeking a waiver now as the process can take months,” she said.

A member of the Haverhill Police Department since 2020, Rodriguez wants to continue serving her community as a firefighter, which she said would better fit her personal life.

“I have two small children; my husband is a batting coach with the Cardinals High A team and travels a lot and I operate our baseball training facility in Lynn,” she said. “And since I already respond to emergencies, it would be a similar but different style of work.”

A military police officer with the U.S. Army Reserves since 2013, Rodriguez said in a letter to the council that as a Haverhill police officer she has built a unique and strong community relationship with the citizens of Haverhill and has come to understand the community’s challenges and needs.

“Responding to calls alongside the members of the Haverhill Fire Department has broadened by mindset and allowed me to understand how important both police and fire are to the community,” she said.

Rodriguez also noted that she obtained her Integrating Communications, Assessments and Tactical Instructor Certification in 2021 and as an ICAT trainer, joining the Haverhill Fire Department will benefit her understanding and response techniques to crisis situations.

Rodriguez’s awards include recognition for “service above self” in 2021 by the House of Representatives and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In his letter to the council, Romero, 34, said he is seeking an age waiver in the hope of joining the Haverhill Police Department.

“Due to the limit of 32 years of age, I am unable to pursue my application with the Haverhill Police Department,” he said. “I have taken the Civil Service exam at the age of 33 and have been selected as a candidate.”

The issue of age isn’t a simple problem to solve, particularly in the volunteer fire service that’s struggling for members

Romero said he worked for the Massachusetts Trial Courts where he developed a passion for serving the public and being involved in the community.

“I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge about Massachusetts laws and procedures in my six years working for the courts,” Romero said. “It has been a lifelong dream to become a police officer and I strongly believe right now is the right time to pursue a career in law enforcement.”’

Romero said he has lived in Haverhill for several years and that he believes it is his duty to serve and protect the people of Haverhill.

His work history includes serving as a head account clerk for the Somerville District Court, as a lead security officer at Winchester Hospital and as an intelligence agent for an executive protection firm. He majored in criminal justice at a community college in Ohio.

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