(MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill.) -- The recruitment of qualified police officer candidates, particularly women and minorities, dominates the Mount Prospect Police Department's goals for the coming fiscal year.
During discussions this week of the proposed 2001 budget, Police Chief Ronald Pavlock said his department has made it a high priority to attract many qualified candidates in the future.
That promises to be a difficult task, as police departments across the country have seen the number of people applying for police officer positions drop sharply during the past five years.
Pavlock said the department will look everywhere it can for ideas on how to buck the trend, including the private sector, other suburban departments and even some big-city police forces.
The only option that won't be considered, Pavlock said, is a reduction of the department's standards.
"This is a first-rate department," he said. "We won't compromise that."
Pavlock said that three or four years ago, Mount Prospect would see 600 to 700 people show up for the written examination, and 50 or 60 would complete the training and wind up on a list of qualified candidates. During the last testing period, about 100 people showed up for the test, and only four completed all the training.
Some say the nation's strong economy plays a significant role in the shrinking applicant pools. Pavlock agrees.
"There are so many jobs out there now that aren't nearly as dangerous and pay a lot more," he said.
Mount Prospect Deputy Police Chief Thomas Daley said other factors might also be involved. For one, the youngest adults in the country simply aren't interested in a job that requires military- like discipline and unusual hours like nights and weekends, he said.
Plus, even those interested in police work might be turned off by the heightened amount of public scrutiny, and criticism, officers face today.
Whatever the reasons, something must be done to overcome them, village officials said. During preliminary budget discussions Tuesday, Trustee Timothy Corcoran said the department should make recruitment a top priority. He suggested surveying officers about what they like and dislike about their jobs.
Pavlock said the department will do that in the hopes a profile of the ideal job and the ideal candidate can be put together. The department also plans to meet with members of the police and fire commission to develop a long-range recruitment strategy.
Pavlock stressed, though, that recruitment is already a top priority for the department. The department spends thousands of dollars on advertising, attends job fairs and makes special efforts to recruit women and minorities.
"We've been successful at attracting officers from other suburban departments, so we are clearly well thought of," he said.
(iSyndicate; Chicago Daily Herald; Oct. 26, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.