Recruiting law enforcement officers can be a challenge. There are many career opportunities available within the public safety field that can result in very rewarding careers. From school resource officer to police chief, there are many different positions that go into creating a solid law enforcement agency. If you are in charge of recruiting for your local police department, there are several things you can do to promote your agency and draw in quality candidates for your open positions.
Grow Your Own
One way to keep your policy agency fully staffed is to look for candidates that are close to your department. A good place to start is the sons and daughters of your own police officers. If they are exploring new career opportunities, engage them in the hiring process. They have already lived the life of a police officer through their family members.
Encourage them to look into becoming police cadets. A police academy candidate can explore many different options when it comes to public service. Have them look into a criminal justice degree. There is much more to law enforcement than being a patrol officer. Being a sworn officer when it comes to public service, can include many different positions within the agency.
Create Simple Consistent Messaging
The key to attracting a strong applicant is simple and consistent messaging. You don’t need to oversell what it means to be a peace officer. A simple recruitment poster that describes the current vacancy is all that is needed if it is placed strategically where it will be noticed by the right candidate. When you find someone who is interested, the 2-minute elevator pitch may be what you need. Draw them in and get a personal history statement, and possibly sign them up for the police academy.
Remove Unnecessary Barriers and Requirements
There are many barriers in place that will prevent a qualified candidate from applying at a nearby police agency. Talk to your city manager and city council about having some of these unnecessary barriers removed. Two of the most common are educational requirements and local residency. While performing a background investigation is a must, it may be a good idea to gain a little clarification when it comes to certain findings.
Residency is one of the easier barriers to overcome. If the applicant is accepted, offer them incentives to move into the jurisdiction where they will be working. For students who lack the proper education, give them an opportunity to continue their education once they are hired. Many will jump at the chance to further their education if it means an opportunity for advancement within the department.
Develop Material Perks and Innovative Time Leave Within Your Existing Budget
Being a law enforcement officer is a stressful job. You will deal with both good and bad extremes. You will experience both pressure and stress. If you want to find the perfect candidate for your open position, you will need to provide them with a few perks that will allow them to put all they have into their work.
Work with your human resources and law enforcement leaders for innovative time off periods and other material perks that will give them what they need to decompress and reduce their stress on a regular basis. Give them an opportunity to take recovery time after an extremely stressful event. It will allow them to regain their bearings and come back to work fully prepared to resume their duties.
Empower Staff to Spread the Word
Work with your human resources department to create job description statements that every officer has access to. Encourage them to speak up about the benefits of becoming a police officer. Encourage community engagement between your police officers and the public at large. Offering community-oriented services brings both groups together and puts police service in a more favorable light.
Give your staff what they need to spread the word. Community engagement is the key to a successful recruitment drive. While job fairs may provide results, it’s better to start your interaction with children. Show them what it’s like to be a peace officer instead of just a cop with a badge.
Military Veteran Networks
Explore military veteran networks. Many veterans have received their honorable discharge and are looking for civil service positions that will allow them to continue to serve both their community and their country. These recruits are already highly trained in many law enforcement skill sets. A field training officer will usually have some degree of military training.
A law enforcement agency is an equal opportunity employer that provides a structured environment much like what military personnel experience when they enlist. When a former soldier applies to be a lateral police officer, they transition easily because of their training. When you work with military veteran networks, you have access to a larger number of highly qualified recruits.
Create A Vacancy Video and Post it On Social Media
Social media is a marketer’s dream. When you have a vacancy in your police department, create a vacancy video and share it on social media. Bring in an audio/visual student from the local college so you get a high-quality video. Write a simple script and introduce yourself and your staff. Explain what the vacant position entails and what will be expected of the person who fills it.
Post the video on all of the social media sites you have access to and be prepared to answer questions. Encourage your followers to share the post. Repost the video every week or so until the position is finally filled.
Forget Career Fairs – Run a Ride Along Campaign
Career fairs are overrated. An applicant may learn about the career opportunities that are available at their local law enforcement agency, but much of that information won’t stick. Instead of attending a career fair, work with your city manager, county council, and police chief to offer a recruit ride-along campaign. This accomplishes two things in a very big way.
The possible recruit will learn firsthand what their responsibilities will be as a local police officer. The second thing you will accomplish is the new recruit will have an opportunity to directly experience what it means to be an officer of the law and the real-life experiences they will face during the commission of their duties. This will give them a small taste of the excitement a police officer feels when they get to help someone in need or the adrenaline that rushes during a high-speed chase. It’s a memory that won’t fade as quickly as a few words at a career fair.
Address the Heavy Time Commitment
It’s true that the life of officers often revolves around their job. Peace officers don’t sign up for a nine-to-five position and they know that. Even patrol officers are sometimes asked to come in outside of work hours if a catastrophic event occurs. It’s the heavy time commitment that often turns a new recruit off, causing them to avoid becoming a patrol officer or detective. There are other career opportunities in law enforcement for them to pursue.
A new recruit or police academy graduate understands what they are signing up for. They realize the amount of time they may have to spend on the job. Explaining that commitment to a new applicant can be difficult. The person who will make the best police officer is one who lives the lifestyle that goes along with this type of career. They do not stop serving their community because they leave their badge at home. It is in their blood and when the call comes in, they are ready to rise to the occasion, even if they are off the clock.
Search These Online Resources
If you are trying to streamline the hiring process for your police department, you have several online resources. They include:
- Discover Policing
Exploring your online resources is a great way for your human resources team to improve the hiring process and increase the number of applicants that are processed each year. You can easily promote a law enforcement career to potential candidates through social media, community engagement, your public works programs, and word of mouth.
Whether you live in South Florida, South Carolina, Texas, or anywhere else in the country, public safety is a top priority. When you are hiring for your local law enforcement agency, you want to find the top recruits that will bring integrity and professionalism to your agency. The above tips will help you achieve this goal.