Ten Rules for Effective Law Enforcement Recruiting

  1. Recruiting is an action verb

    A recruiter needs to recruit. That means having an e-mail address and/or phone number that candidates can call and actually speak with a human about what the agency offers. A recruiter should identify good candidates and follow up with them.

  2. If the rules are broken, change the rules

    Whether it is a state law, civil service rule or internal policy; the rules need to be re-evaluated and if necessary, changed. For example, one state law puts a ten-year limit on a single drug use event other than marijuana. This would seem to include Ecstasy and a prescription drug someone gave you for pain medication. Perhaps the agencies in that state need to lobby to get that law changed. Civil service laws should be changed to allow expedited testing, temporary positions, conditional offers, and veteran and foreign language bonus points. Obviously law changes are easier in small states, but do what you can.

  3. Expedite the hiring process

    Your competition has, so if you don't expedite the process, you will get the leftovers. Pay now or pay later in termination and legal costs. One corrections agency has employees conditionally hired and in training in 3 weeks. One sheriff's department has them hired in six weeks and many are now done in 12 to 14 weeks. In some cases employees are in training and sign a waiver that their position is temporary pending completion of the background investigation.

  4. A 100 officer department has more than 100 recruiters

    This is part of the basics. In the Marine Corps; every Marine a Rifleman. In your agency; every Officer a Recruiter. All officers should be briefed on the need to hire a qualified and diverse workforce. After all, these are their co-workers and cover officers. Likewise, civilian employees should be briefed, and recruiting business cards given to all.

  5. Use and train motivated recruiters

    Actual recruiters should be volunteers, not officers on light duty or someone seeking an easy day job. They should be trained mostly in marketing and sales techniques. They should read books on sales and talk to military recruiters and even car salespersons that you might know!

  6. Think outside the box

    Recruiting is changing and there is a need to be progressive. Everyone should be involved including officers, administrators, recruiters, human resources staff, community members, marketing experts, etc. All should sit down and brainstorm new ideas. For example, some smaller agencies are starting to consolidate recruiting, job fairs and testing to reduce costs and stretch resources.

  7. Get back to basics

    While thinking outside the box, don't forget the cost effective basics. I call them the "Three Bs and a W": Business cards, Bumper Stickers, Banners and an effective Web Site.

  8. If your human resources or personnel department doesn't work hand in hand with recruiting, you are dead in the water

    Testing, budget, advertising, conditional hires, and other policies need to be carefully coordinated.

  9. If your Chief, Sheriff, Director doesn't support recruiting, you are done before you start

    Just like the need for human resources to cooperate; it is vital that the administration buy into the recruiting efforts. This may involve a willingness to consider changes in working conditions, hours, benefits, shifts, etc. It may also include the need for the agency head to coordinate with other chiefs and sheriffs and to lobby for change.

  10. Retention is better than Recruiting

    Again, this may include changes in working conditions. One agency has an officer assigned specifically to retention and working with family members. They are also looking at hiring a veteran officer's wife (who is also a former cop) as a family retention specialist. Now that's thinking outside the box.