Police Recruitment Solved…

Dr. Travis Yates retired as a commander with a large municipal police department after 30 years of service. He is the author of “The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards, Chaos & Lies.” His risk management and leadership seminars have been taught to thousands of professionals across the world. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy with a Doctorate Degree in Strategic Leadership and the CEO of the Courageous Police Leadership Alliance.

I’ve devoted a few articles in recent months to law enforcement recruiting because I see it as the Y2K of our day with the exception this is a real crisis. If agencies cannot staff accordingly, a host of problems will emerge and those problems will multiply rapidly and sustain over generations. We are already seeing it in many jurisdictions with reduction of services, lowering hiring standards, higher crime and burned out officers trying to fill the open beats. That will continue and in the years to come, the profession will be plagued with high profile incidents that should have never happened.


The Miami Police Department was plagued by corruption and scandal throughout the 80’s and 90’s and gang members were even found within the ranks. The scandals came on the heels of a huge diversity push for hiring and rather than doing deep background investigations, officers were hired because of appearance only. With the speculation that the 2023 Memphis incident (which oddly, we hear nothing about) may have been directly linked to their lowering of hiring standards, each of us should be concerned about the direction of law enforcement recruiting and the long-term effects it will have in a community near you.

I’ve been discussing the issue for some time and a few years ago, I found Jake Peters and Doug Larsen doing some amazing work in the recruiting space. I’ve known Doug for many years and as a retired law enforcement professional, he had an understanding of the issue that few do. I didn’t know Jake as well but I recently spoke to him on my podcast and it impacted me so much, I wanted to bring the information to you.


Here is a short clip that will help you understand my excitement of what he had to offer.

I’ve been around the block a few times and it’s rare that I hear information that blows me away but that is what the conversation did for me and I believe you will find it very intriguing. If you are struggling in recruiting or you are simply interested in the topic, this interview is a must listen.

Listen to the entire podcast

While I often discuss the role of sound leadership in employee retention, as Jake discusses, the ability to recruit is a simple understanding by leaders of how to actually do it and if that understanding leads to the right decisions, the issue can be solved almost immediately.


Jake draws a distinction between marketing and recruiting and that understanding is the key to solving the issue. Jake tells me that departments “can spend a hundred thousand dollars on another video” and build a high level website for appearance or they can build the processes to actually recruit police officers.


Jake knows from experience that marketing or a professional appearance has very little to do with actual recruiting. Prior to dedicating his expertise to law enforcement, Jake recruited truck drivers who had a 100 percent turnover every year and many companies had no web presence. Despite the lack of marketing, Jake’s team was very successful and that is what makes Jake and SAFEGUARD Recruiting so different but so successful in law enforcement.


I spoke about our love for “Shiny Objects” a few months ago and while every agency should market themselves to the public, that won’t do much for recruiting and years after the recruiting crisis began, Jake’s philosophy is catching on and SAFEGUARD Recruiting has been fully staffing agencies.


It sounds too good to be true and that is why you must listen to this interview. We discuss many of the processes that need to be in place for success and the conversion rates of recruits to the academy. While discussing some of the more extreme shortages in the profession, I asked Jake if an agency needed 2,000 officers, was that even possible. With the industry average conversion rate of 5%, the agency would need 40,000 candidates to fill the openings.


Jake chuckled and told me that wasn’t a problem.


It may sound arrogant to be so confident on an issue that is plaguing the majority of the profession but Jake was telling the truth. His company has consistently provided thousands of names every month to clients and he tells a few stories that you should hear.

I'm Not Selling You

I don’t typically talk about companies to you because we all get too much of that anyway but this isn’t about a company. While it’s true that I believe SAFEGUARD Recruiting is the only answer to any agency that needs to fill the beats effectively, efficiently, and economically, they aren’t the only company that could do it.


But others choose not to for a very important reason and that is the biggest hurdle Jake and his team have faced. Agencies need to embrace a “process” philosophy on recruiting rather than an “appearance” philosophy. While I love the fancy websites and tactic-cool videos, we need to view them as important marketing (appearance) for our agency rather than a solution for another problem…recruiting.


Recruiting is about the right processes and the expertise to put those in place. SAFEGUARD Recruiting is doing exactly that and for the sake of our profession and the communities served, I hope Jake and his team stay very busy in the years to come.

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