Having trouble recruiting officers to reflect the diversity of your community? Having trouble finding qualified applicants that meet the needs of your organization and the strategic goals of your human resources division? Well, you are not alone. Many organizations are competing for limited resources in the pool of qualified (and some not so qualified) applicants.
The profession of policing has come a long way from merely a job you would apply for much like the one at the local Wal-Mart or Target store. In the early years it was not uncommon for people to duplicate their résumés and spread them out across the city--one size fits all. Today we safeguard against mass mailings of résumés and hope that the applicants who do go through the process of applying with our police service are serious about their decision to become a police officer. This does not always happen. You hear horror stories about the female applicant that came into the interview wearing a tight leather mini skirt and no underwear because she thought all of the police were men and this would surely get her hired. Boy, was she surprised when the interviewer was one of our female officers. Or the female applicant who admitted to using drugs just the week before because her close friend had died and "how do you expect me to get through the funeral without a little help?" Wow, top notch applicants there I'd say.
But really, how do you attract excellent qualified female applicants to your police service?
Go where they go
You want an applicant with excellent physical conditioning and a disciplined attitude? Go to the university or college women's sports teams; volleyball, basketball, track and field, soccer. Go there and recruit your future officers. They are educated and they are fit!
Visit your local gyms and put up recruiting posters. Dance schools, karate classes, you name it, if they are fitness and discipline related, then get your message out to them. Do recruiting presentations to female-based classes; provide a competition of some sort with the winner getting a ride along with a police officer. All of these can get you a qualified applicant!
Grade nine or ten female physical education (gym) classes should be approached to start planting the seed for future female police officers. A dynamic exciting presentation at this age could provide what they need to set the goal of being a police officer. If you can hook them early, choices made throughout their high school and college education will be made based on their goal of being a police officer. Lifestyle choices such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol will be limited because they don't want to jeopardize their chances of being a police officer. Wow, crime prevention and a recruiting program all in one! Investing in these young teenagers will pay dividends later when they have met the qualifications of the service. That's why McDonalds has a happy meal--to get you hooked young so they can keep you coming back when you are older!
Have your existing police officers find a candidate they feel would be qualified and mentor them. Having female officers mentor potential female applicants is an excellent way of assisting applicants in meeting the challenges of the physical and written tests as well as morale support along the way. This is also an excellent for public relations and image for the police service, helping out those who are interested in policing.
There may be places you haven't thought to look. Many immigrants have Ph.D.s and they may be driving a cab. One young man spoke seven different languages--what an asset to policing! Visit your local immigrant support centers and talk to the staff. Identify those candidates who may want to be a police officer. Once again, reflect the diversity of your community by supporting various cultural applicants. Supporting these candidates may take longer, it may not, depending on their English language skills. In any event, they should not be overlooked.
Community Police Academy
Want to offer potential applicants a taste of what policing is? Run a community police academy so applicants can learn about all aspects of policing. Police academies run from 12-16 weeks, once a week to provide a glimpse of what policing is really like. This includes a ride along in a police car, a sit along in detention or communications/dispatch centers as well as the opportunity can shoot a duty firearm and a graduation ceremony complete with a certificate from the police service. Run two academies, one for Grade 12 students and one for adults. An all-female police academy? Why not?
All of these can assist you in targeting the people you need to meet the criteria to pass the entrance tests to be a police officer. Providing mentorship through the police academy process as well as day care opportunities during this time may be attractive to some female and perhaps male applicants for your police service. Our police academy is part of the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. This university has a day care program. Several of our female officers have taken advantage of this program while they have been on police training courses. They also get to spend the evening with their child--a win/win situation! Sometimes people just need a hand up, not a hand out. You will get some that will say, "I made it through police academy without a stupid support program and my kids stayed home like everyone else." Well, get over it, times have changed, accept it and move on. Why not offer more than the next police service? Why not look attractive to the applicant? The more applicants to your service, the more likely you are going to pick qualified, effective police officers.
On the flip side, you could keep wasting your time with the applicant with the nose and lip ring and pink hair who just failed her interview at the Dunkin' Donuts, and was hoping to get on your police service. You pick.