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Police departments go on-line to hunt for new recruits

August 09, 2001
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Police departments go on-line to hunt for new recruits

(LOS ANGELES) -- Police departments across the United States are taking their search for new recruits on-line.

Click on the web site of any big-city department, and you are likely to find a prominent advertisement for job opportunities. Los Angeles is typical. Right below the link to the LAPD Kids site is a colorful block that proclaims “LAPD is hiring."

Those who proceed further can read an enthusiastic description of the job that promises “As an LAPD officer, YOU CAN BE ANYTHING But bored!" There are links to everything from mobile testing dates to tips on preparing for the interview and the physical tests to information on salaries and bonuses. The department also offers out-of-town candidates a testing package that allows them to go through the entire battery of tests in a stay in Los Angeles of less than a week.

Officer Tonya Rodda, assigned to recruitment with the LAPD, said the department has received inquiries from as far away as South Africa. A lot of Canadians, including members of the legendary Royal Canadian Mounted Police, have also expressed interest in moving to hot and sunny southern California. Unfortunately, anyone who hopes to use the LAPD as a ticket to immigration to the United States is out of luck since candidates must be citizens or legal immigrants who have applied for citizenship.

The department, which is currently trying to hire 1,000 new officers, is focusing its efforts on the immediate area, and on nearby places like San Diego, Phoenix and northern California, Rodda said. She said the web site is useful because potential recruits can ask questions by e-mail, but once a candidates get serious they must travel to Los Angeles to undergo testing in person.

St. Louis also seeks recruits through its web site, but a spokeswoman said that most inquiries come from people who have seen commercials on cable television or an advertisement in the local paper. Most live in St. Louis or the surrounding suburbs.

That seems to be the story most places. Recruiting officers are finding that the Internet is a useful tool, an addition to but not a substitute for more old-fashioned methods.

Most large police departments are now trying to hire officers by the hundreds to replace retiring baby-boomers. Smaller police departments, where vacancies occur by ones and twos, are less likely to use their web sites to attract job seekers. For example, while the Metro-Dade Police Department in Miami has a prominent link for potential recruits on its web site that connects to pages of information and a downloadable application. Nearby Miami Beach and North Miami do not have anything to advertise job openings, although North Miami does have a discreet link to its personnel department.

The Chicago Police Department hopes to take on-line recruiting a step further soon. The department’s two-year-old Ambassador Program is designed to help bring in recruits and to guide them through the application process and help them prepare for the written and physical tests.

Sgt. Janice Barney said that the department would like to take the application process onto the web, so that police officers interested in moving to Chicago and other out-of-town candidates could fill out applications and file them via computer and go through preliminary testing and screening electronically. Then they would only have to travel to Chicago once they knew that they had a good shot at a job. But Barney said the police department will have to wait because testing and hiring is now done by the city’s central personnel department.

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