Las Vegas Valley Police Department faces recruiting hurdles
Miguel Pineda said he decided to become a North Las Vegas police officer out of a desire to help others.
“Helping the community,” Pineda, 27, said Jan. 6 after graduating from the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy. “Whether it’s changing a tire or helping someone after they’ve been robbed. At any rate. As long as I can help, if I can be helpful, I’ll be there to help.
Pineda previously worked as a correctional officer in Nevada, which made him an attractive recruit to employers. He decided to pursue a career as an officer in North Las Vegas after talking to friends and officers from the city’s police force.
This word-of-mouth recruiting approach remains an effective way to hire new officers, local police said. But these days, in a time of COVID-19 restrictions, rising officer retirements across the country and push for changes in policing, recruiting has a new urgency.
The North Las Vegas, Henderson and Las Vegas police have online recruiting tools to attract applicants from across the country. The three services are also pursuing what are known as lateral transfers of officers currently working for other police departments, which slightly shortens the time it takes to hire experienced officers.
“Our current recruiting efforts have become more technology-based than face-to-face efforts due to the COVID pandemic,” said North Las Vegas recruiting manager Daniel Nardi, adding that the websites of recruiting and “our official social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram” proved particularly valuable.
Increase in retirements
In June, the Police Executive Research Forum released a report on trends in police staffing. The report involved a survey of 194 police departments. It showed that over a 12-month period from 2020 to 2021, there was a 45% increase in police retirements. Agencies are only filling about 93% of their authorized positions, the survey showed, although the overall reduction in hiring fell by a much more modest 5%.
Forum executive director Chuck Wexler said cities across the country are now in an increasingly competitive battle to hire more officers because of these retirements.
“I’ve spoken to mayors in a number of cities, and this is what keeps them up at night,” Wexler said. “Who will be the cops of the future? It’s a huge problem. Even as your numbers are squeezed, homicides in many cities are increasing dramatically. »
Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Richard Meyers said recruiting efforts differed slightly from year to year, depending on budget and attrition numbers. Metro is expected to have police and corrections academies every quarter in 2022. The agency expects about 130 recruits to attend each of the first two quarters.
Metro will have a lateral police academy for the first time in several years this summer, allowing officers from other cities to join the department after undergoing local training. Officers who participate in lateral training skip traditional police academies for new recruits and have more classroom instruction, which shortens the time it takes to hire them.
Target recruits from out of state
In the fall, billboards with “Las Vegas Supports First Responders Join Our Force” appeared in major cities across the United States, including New York, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation paid for the billboards, which directed people to Metro’s recruiting website, protectthecity.com.
“The police department has identified the need to hire more officers, and we’re here to support those efforts,” the foundation’s executive director, Tom Kovach, said of the billboards.
Meyers said out-of-state recruiting isn’t new to Metro and other departments. Up to 10% of Las Vegas police academy attendees are currently from California, and Metro recently held officer testing there.
Even the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Meyers points out, recruited candidates in southern Nevada by placing a billboard along Interstate 15.
Social media is the key
Sam Blonder is CEO and co-owner of Epic Recruiting in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company helps police departments with branding, creating websites, videos and social media content.
“Most of the departments we work with, their past experience is sending a pair of officers to a job fair or community college to give a presentation,” Blonder said. “Unfortunately, this type of recruiting isn’t producing the kinds of numbers they need to manage attrition and retirement.”
He said successful recruiting involves departments creating a brand that demonstrates a friendly work environment, great benefits and a profession that helps others. A critical part of recruiting, he said, is creating as wide a candidate pool as possible.
“If you have 5,000 people applying and 70% washing up, you’re in good shape,” Blonder said.
“If you have 500 people applying and 70% washing up, you’re in trouble.”
Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson Police all have social media campaigns targeting recruits. Metro created an LVMPD recruiting Facebook page that hosted a live virtual recruiting event on January 4. During the show, Meyers and Officer Michelle Funes briefed potential recruits on available jobs for officers, dispatchers, and data and intelligence analysts.
This Facebook livestream received over 10,000 views.
Contact Glenn Puit by email at [email protected] Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.