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02-19-07, 05:44 AM #1Banned
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Police to launch recruiting campaign (Boston)
Anyone interested in working in Boston?
Actually I doubt it, even with the higher initial pay. Reading this story it sounds like the union is more interested in having long term dues paying members than the best applicants. That's my take, what's yours?
Police to launch recruiting campaign
Ad blitz aims to reverse a troubling downturn
By Suzanne Smalley, Globe Staff | February 19, 2007
The Boston Police Department will launch an unprecedented recruiting campaign today , counting on snazzy ads and billboards to reverse a troubling downturn in the number and quality of applicants.
The sophisticated $100,000 marketing blitz features 11 current officers working with youths, taking crime-scene photos, riding a motorcycle, and performing other duties -- all with the slogan, "Many Jobs, One Career, Boston's Future."
Designed by the department, the campaign features billboards as well as ads online, in newspapers, and at bus shelters. It also includes posters at community centers. The ad campaign will continue through April 2, the last day to sign up for the next state civil service exam on May 19. Department "ambassadors" will also fan out to job fairs and community meetings.
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said the campaign will focus on attracting more candidates from diverse backgrounds , more candidates with language skills, and a higher-caliber pool of candidates. He said he is especially concerned with bolstering the applicant pool after a string of high-profile corruption cases, most notably the FBI arrests in July of three officers accused of guarding shipments of what they believed to be cocaine.
"This agency is dealing with internal problems, but . . . you try to put the bad behind you and move forward, and this is an opportunity to interest new groups of people," Davis said in an interview.
Davis said he is determined to attract more candidates from multiethnic backgrounds to a department in which about 36 percent of officers are members of a minority group. He plans to target the Cape Verdean community for applicants who speak Portuguese or Creole, a dialect spoken in the West African island nation. One of 11 billboards advertising the recruitment drive will be placed at the Dorchester intersection of Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue, one of the city's highest-crime areas, where a large number of Cape Verdean immigrants live.
"Clearly having representation from that community is an important component of an effective crime prevention program," the commissioner said.
Boston and other Massachusetts police departments use the state's civil service exam to identify and hire officers. The number of test takers interested in joining the Boston police has dropped from 5,430 in 1997 to 1,345 the last time the civil service exam was offered in 2005. Of that shrunken pool of applicants, many fail the test, meaning the real number of eligible officers is far smaller and forcing the department to hire applicants with lower scores.
The department now has 2,160 officers, plus 80 recruits in the Police Academy. Another academy class starts in June. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has pledged to add at least 50 officers this year, bringing the total to the highest number since 2001.
Despite the ambitious recruiting campaign, the Boston Police Department may face an uphill climb to draw more and better applicants, some specialists say.
The drawn-out application process common to Boston and other unionized departments in the Northeast discourages the most qualified college graduates, they say.
"They don't want to have to wait six to nine months to get a job and work nights," said Elaine Deck , a senior program manager with the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
A Boston ordinance is also a problem, some department insiders say, because it requires the department to hire all applicants who have lived in the city for at least a year and who pass the test before considering better-qualified and higher-scoring outsiders.
The rule does not put the department at a disadvantage, said police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. "We're confident that this recruiting effort will be successful working within the parameters that we are beholden to," she said.
Still, Sergeant Detective Norman Hill, commander of the recruiting unit, said that for the first time in many years the department has exhausted the pool of candidates who reside in Boston and passed the exam. Until the results from the May exam become available, the department will hire recruits from outside the city, giving preference to military veterans and those who speak other languages, Hill said.
Boston does have some advantages.
While the national average salary for a first-year police officer is $32,000 to $34,000, first-year officers in Boston earn $49,174. Their earnings can grow significantly with paid construction details, overtime, and bonuses for a bachelor's or master's degree.
Deck said that in many police departments across the country, there are more openings than applicants because of increased competition from the private sector and federal law enforcement, because up to 10 percent of officers have been called up for military service in Iraq, and because large numbers of baby boomer officers are retiring.
Agencies have begun traveling around the country to recruit, she said, and some have even gone to Florida to pass out literature to college students on spring break .
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, said competition for applicants has grown so stiff that some departments are offering incentives. For example, he said, Houston and Dallas are pitching signing bonuses of $10,000. "I don't think I've seen a more difficult time for police departments to hire," Wexler said. "It's unprecedented for departments to offer huge bonuses."
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