NEW BRIGHTON, Minn., Dec. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) announced today a unique, new statewide initiative, wearthebadge.org, aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of police officers and the overall perception of the profession.
Wear the Badge will help Minnesotans explore the changing dynamics of a law enforcement career and give potential candidates and the public a better understanding of what it's really like to work as a peace officer in the 21st Century.
Police departments large and small, urban and rural, are seeing a dramatic drop in the number of candidates applying for job openings. Locally, there is also a substantial increase in the number of candidates who fail to meet pre-hiring qualifications, according to Andy Skoogman, Executive Director of the MCPA, a statewide, professional member organization representing more than 500 law enforcement leaders in Minnesota. Skoogman says there are a number of contributing factors. He also says the profession struggles to attract individuals with diverse skill sets, backgrounds and experience.
"While local and national research shows strong support for law enforcement, the policing profession is staring down a hiring crisis," said Skoogman. "We live in an economy where jobs are plentiful, salaries in the private sector are often greater than the public sector, scrutiny of police is more intense than ever and technology is rapidly changing the work officers do. We have to reverse this troubling trend."
According to a survey of by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), nearly 66 percent of police departments in the U.S. say their number of job applicants has decreased. Findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that the raw number of sworn officers is also down from a peak of approximately 723,000 in 2013 to about 701,000 today.
In Minnesota, the number of people who are taking the peace officer licensing exam annually has dropped more than 25% since 2015, and the number of people who have passed the exam has dropped 23% over that same time period, according to data from the Minnesota Police Officer Standards and Training Board (POST).
The MCPA launched the Wear the Badge initiative today during a discussion forum in Bloomington that focused on the future workforce and the sharing of current best practices in recruitment and retention, which include local efforts to help students explore careers in their hometowns and a statewide reimbursement program that encourages departments to hire men and women who make policing a "second career." Nearly 100 law enforcement and community leaders across the state attended the forum in person or online.
"As chiefs leading rural, urban and suburban departments, we have a common challenge and need to consider different solutions collectively," says Dan Hatten, the MCPA President and the chief of police in Hutchinson. "Many smaller, rural agencies are concerned about losing veteran officers to larger departments. Larger agencies are experiencing increased retirements as baby boomers age. We are also struggling to attain gender and racial diversity in our departments."
The Wear the Badge campaign will include a series of short, authentic video profiles or mini-documentaries of Minnesota police officers at work explaining why they chose to Wear the Badge. The videos were produced by the MCPA and will be distributed monthly through social media networks, statewide and community partnerships, law enforcement agencies and events and other channels. The videos, along with blogposts, podcasts and career information, will be highlighted on wearthebadge.org.
"Technology is not only changing this career, it's also changing the way people research police work and get their questions answered as they explore career options," said Jeff Potts, Bloomington's police chief and Vice President of the MCPA. "Police work still ranks high as an opportunity to serve and make a difference in your local community. The Wear the Badge campaign will hammer home that message and we hope entice more Minnesotans to choose this honorable profession as their career."
About the MCPA
The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) is a non-profit professional member organization whose mission is to provide the highest quality of police services and leadership to the people of Minnesota. The vision is to be the recognized voice for professional law enforcement in Minnesota. The MCPA represents approximately 500 police chiefs and command staff at municipal and state law enforcement agencies across Minnesota. For more, visit www.mnchiefs.org.