The Wrong Way and the Right Way to Recruit

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results:


Some agencies seem more concerned about de-selecting good candidates than getting good ones. Those that do not get the best candidate will pay for it in liability, turn-over and public acceptance.

I won't mention any names, but we'll take a look at two agencies, one eastern and one western, that seem to be stuck doing it the wrong way. They seem to put obstacles in the way of getting quality applicants. The degree to which one large agency goes is mind numbing.

According to the eastern agency web site: "The (name deleted) has a critical need to hire..." yet their web site also says: "...you must also be a resident of the city for at least one year prior to taking the civil service exam." That seems self defeating. The need must not be too critical.

Next veterans, such as me, are encouraged to apply. However as I understand it, veterans get head-of-the-line privileges. A vet who scores 70 goes to the top of the list over a non-veteran who scored 99. Not all veterans can be good cops. Shouldn't someone smart enough to score 99 be given fair consideration?

Real diversity involves not only race, but people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. I know a small agency where every supervisor was a veteran and almost all Marines like the chief. Regardless of race or ethnic background, that's not diversity.

So an experienced out-of-state cop who speaks Spanish and has a college degree need not apply. The GED veteran, city resident gets the job. This really seems to be very counterproductive to both getting quantity and quality applicants.

For those who still want to take the test, it is only offered once every two years! According to their web site, the next test is April 23, 2007. You missed it, but you can re-apply in two years! The web site further discourages applicants by saying that it has a consent decree to hire minorities. Apparently that is outdated information as well.

They have already dramatically dissuaded the applicant pool but to compound matters, they charge $75 to take the test. Yes they charge you to fill this "critical need."

Okay, by now they have ruled out the vast majority of potential quality applicants, but it gets even worse. I have found that retired military, many aged 38-42, make excellent cops and many are physically and mentally conditioned. Many can run circles around out-of-shape, much younger applicants. This agency has an age limit: 31, or 35 for some veterans (apparently they plan to up this to age 40 next time). My teaching partner is a retired Army Ranger, almost zero body fat and now a successful police sergeant.

Overall, this agency's de-selection process is the most egregious example of poor recruiting and hiring that I have ever seen.

A moderate sized western police department that I have knowledge of is an example of common bad practices.

I have never seen any western or national ads for this agency. A recruiter needs to get out and actively recruit and contact those who call or e-mail. The web site is fair but not good. A good web site needs to sell and market the agency, the community and the quality of life.

The most serious glitch in their process is the length of their process. They test about twice a year on specific dates. Not good for out-of-towners or those in the military. Now let me tell you about the competition.

Those who do show up for the physical agility and written test have only just begun a process that can stretch seven to ten months. If you fail the agility, you can re-apply in six months. Let's look at their competition: Sacramento PD offers mentoring to help applicants understand and succeed in passing the agility test. We want females but frequently the physical agility has a higher failure rate for females.

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