The town of Brookline is moving to drop the state’s civil service exam process for its police department — changing 130 years of practice — to speed up hiring and fill open positions.

As first reported by Brookline.News, the police department is struggling to hire new staff through the state’s Civil Service Division’s process, which only conducts the statewide exam once a year. The town wants to create its own procedure in order to schedule more tests, potentially do away with any residency benefits, and expand diversity.

Town Administrator Chas Carey told GBH News on Wednesday he hopes to "move as quickly as possible" to transition to a new system with the support of union leadership and the town's Select Board.

“We already have the basic framework that's in agreement on how the chief will have the authority to conduct hiring, and promotional processes,” he said. “With that in place, we'll be able to partner with the contractor to develop the test and the assessment centers and move on independently.”

Brookline is not alone. Over 35 other municipalities have made similar changes to their police hiring efforts, pulling away from the state civil service exam. On Tuesday night, Worcester city councilors approved an effort to drop the requirement that the city's police chief and deputy chief take the civil service exam.

The Civil Service Division didn’t respond to requests for an interview.

Brookline currently has 18 open positions and 134 sworn officers, according to Carey. The final decision is still pending union ratification and approval at town meeting in May.

Alec Lebovitz, a town meeting member, said the process has contributed to a "bottlenecking" in the system, slowing down training and matriculation into the department. Officers have had to work extended overtime shifts, he said, sometimes of 16 to 18 hours in a 24-hour period.

“Those folks are being left to pick up the slack. Largely because our participation in civil service, has made it difficult to bring on new folks to fill vacancies that exist,” he said.

Town officials also hope the new process will diversify the pool of candidates. “The civil service was the subject of a successful lawsuit in which the test was thrown out for being discriminatory, or having a discriminatory impact,” said Carey.

Carey said that members of the community have asked to preserve some of the aspects of the state exam, like a preference for veterans. There are several changes under consideration.

Current police officers aren’t required to live in town, but there is a benefit through the civil service exam for officers who have lived in Brookline for some time. The town is deciding whether that would be necessary for the new application process. It’s a significant issue because of the high cost of living in Brookline, and the difficulty of municipal workers finding homes there, Carey said.

If approved, the town will send out a request for proposals. Carey said they’re also assessing the cost of implementing a new system.