It is no secret that law enforcement recruiting is in the middle of a crisis. I’ve discussed what was coming for several years and while I used to spend time convincing others that our recruiting strategies must change, most are now on board.
While I applaud the agencies that are finally spending the time and resources on recruiting, there is a looming police problem that I continue to see.
I call it the “cool factor.”
Let me briefly explain…
Many years ago, I was running the EVOC program at my agency and the chief returned from a conference and informed me that he wanted four driving simulators for our program. I thought it was an odd request as up until then he didn’t seem to care much for my aggressive push to improve law enforcement driver training.
I didn’t know a lot about simulators at the time, but they were relatively new to law enforcement and if he was going to give me $500,000 for the program, there could be a myriad of other ways to reduce collisions and injuries.
I expressed my concerns and was promptly told that were getting simulators because they were “cool.”
I eventually obtained the simulators and while there was some benefit, they didn’t exactly revolutionize our training efforts. I vividly remember officers asking me to show them to their kids, so I guess they were cool but then again, that was long before the latest version of Grand Turismo.
Recruiting and Cool
If our profession is honest, we have a “cool” problem. We sometimes make decisions based on what WE like rather that what could actually work and that is exactly what I’m seeing today in our attempt to recruit.
I’m the first to watch that awesome tactical promotional video for an agency and I love to look at website designs but is that the most effective way to recruit?
The answer is pretty simple to any agency that believes websites and videos are the answer.
Are more recruits coming to the agency?
Taking Advantage of ‘Cool’
There are many companies taking advantage of law enforcement by playing to the “cool” factor. Like years ago, when that simulator company placed as many police chiefs in the seat and fired up a fun scenario, there are companies today that tout an awesome website, video and a few attention grabbing taglines in an attempt to help them with recruiting.
I understand why it works.
Every agency should have a functional and eye appealing website and an occasional adrenaline pumping video makes everyone in uniform proud to do what we do but that is not recruiting…It is marketing and as I have previously discussed, they are not the same.
All of this is why I love SAFEGUARD Recruiting and as someone truly concerned for the future of law enforcement and the safety of our communities, I will continue to push the company that I believe has finally gotten this right.
Doug Larsen is a retired police officer and president of SAFEGUARD Recruiting. He has made it his mission to provide law enforcement agencies with the recruiting they need, and he places that well above profit.
Doug tells me that while his company could certainly provide cutting edge websites and videos for agencies and profit greatly, that simply would not fulfill the mission that SAFEGUARD Recruiting has set out to do.
“Our company could do a tremendous amount of profit if we were in the website game,” Larsen says.
As Larsen described it, the formula is pretty simple to make money on websites, videos and ultimately marketing because that is the end product, and the development cost is cheap.
But for Larsen, the end product is new police officers wearing a badge and that is a much more difficult task for a company.
“It’s much easier to roll out a website with a contact form and promote the link online for clicks, than to actually go out and grab new recruits for an agency,” Larsen exclaimed.
Success and Frustration
The success that SAFEGUARD Recruiting has had in recent years is mind blowing with a recent campaign averaging just $7 for every recruit obtained by the agency but Larsen says that has created some unintended consequences.
Multiple agencies have asked them to reduce the number of recruit leads because they are struggling with the volume while others don’t always understand the techniques and tactics that produce success.
This is exactly why so many companies are cashing in on so called “recruiting” websites.
“They can see it, touch it, brag about it and work with the company to customize it,” Larsen said.
But Larsen is adamant.
“We are in the recruiting business and that is providing agencies the names and contacts of qualified candidates.”
Indeed, providing an agency with hundreds of names in a month (which SAFEGUARD has done for various clients) may not look cool but it will certainly place safety back in communities and I think that is way cooler.