It’s hardly a secret that police departments at all levels are having trouble recruiting and retaining qualified and talented individuals.
Stellar police officers are opting to retire or just quit, frustrated over lack of resources or support they need to carry out their high-risk duties. Increasingly, good officers don’t want to chance doing what they’ve been trained to do, as they’ve been trained to do it, only to find themselves in the line of fire, literally and figuratively.
This trend also has a noticeable effect on recruitment of new officers.
The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in 2021 conducted a survey of members, which included chief executives of police departments. The survey found that officer retirements are on the rise with respondents reporting a 45 percent increase in the retirement rate. The survey revealed an overall 18 percent increase in officer resignations, when compared year-over-year from 2019/20 to 2020-21.
Hiring was less of a problem but still an issue. The survey found there was a five percent overall decrease in the hiring rate among respondents. It must be noted, however, that while these numbers provide insights into a general pattern, some departments have been harder-hit than others.
According to the survey, the myriad of issues behind the numbers range from concerns over political dynamics and lack of sufficient resources to many new applicants failing to meet minimum eligibility requirements.
Local governments have tried to address the problem by allocating more moneys for the recruitment of new officers, even adding to benefits packages and signing bonuses, often to no avail. Obviously, the core issues are not entirely compensatory.
My Law Enforcement Family
While I’ve spent decades in the public relations and communications profession, I come from a law enforcement family. My father and his brothers, my father-in-law and his father-in-law, were all police officers.
Every one of them served honorably and retired with distinction. They put their lives on the line on several occasions and made their share of serious sacrifices in the line of duty. “To protect and serve,” wasn’t just a tagline in our home. This is a point of pride for me and my family.
There is nothing more I would like to do than to help any police department attract and retain good officers. Fortunately, I’m in a position to do this, which is why through my firm and some strategic business partnerships, we’re launching our Police Recruitment Marketing system.
A 6-Point System
This is a 6-point system that includes a combination of components customized to the client based on need and budget:
- Planning – Defining your objectives, your targeted audiences (types of new applicants, veteran officers, etc.), creating your message platform.
- Advertising and Sponsored Content – Utilization of advertising, job board postings, sponsored content and paid social media content placements targeted to your prospective candidates where they live online, or as need be, through traditional advertising.
- Earned Media – Public relations support through development of news releases, op-eds, article placements and other scenarios where established media channels can amplify your messages.
- Social – A strategic social media program that involves creative execution in forums where your targeted audiences frequent.
- Controlled Channels – Full and organized utilization of your existing website, perhaps modified to showcase your Police Recruitment Program, blogs, emails, an eNewsletter, videos, podcasts, webinars, and event support. This may include optimization of your existing “careers” or “employment” sections of existing website.
- Word-of-Mouth (WOM) – Establishment of a “brand ambassador” program that utilizes your existing police force and their allies to aid in the recruitment process. This manifests itself through testimonials, empowering them on social media, and featuring them in other program elements.
Of course, none of this is likely to be effective without credible and strong messages, which in themselves are reliant on dependable leadership and a solid workplace culture.
If this is the kind of challenge you are facing, I’d be happy to set up a free consultation. Just get in touch.