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Equipment as a Recruitment Tool

Written by Dwayne Orrick

Agencies able to highlight that equipment issued to their staff is above average are often more successful recruiting and retaining high-quality candidates.

Unfortunately, departments often overlook the impact that equipment makes on attracting and retaining employees. Departments that fail to provide good equipment are less enticing. If officers are not provided with the equipment they need, they will often go to an agency that does.

When talking with potential candidates, recruiters should demonstrate how their equipment improves officer safety, effectiveness, comfort, and convenience. The first priority should always be the officers’ safety. Recruits often ask about protective equipment such as bullet-resistant vests. The type, caliber, and brand of duty weapons carried are often of interest. Some agencies may be also able to highlight other weapons used i.e., patrol rifles.

The issuance of less-lethal weapons, including pepper spray, expandable batons and TASERs, increase officer safety and confidence. In addition, these devices can be used to encourage small-framed people who may not have considered a career in law enforcement as being a real possibility.

Organizations that are to able communicate accurate information the most quickly are often the most effective. Fewer organizations are as dependent on fast, reliable information than law enforcement agencies. The key to processing and communicating this information is the department’s computer system. Candidates entering law enforcement today have been around computers their entire lives. Many consider them as essential as car keys and a duty weapon. These recruits just don’t want this equipment. They expect it. There is a good reason for this expectation. Computers make the officers more effective and their jobs easier.

For example, laptop computers streamline report writing by allowing officers to submit better quality reports more quickly. Corrections and additions can be made quickly. Software integration programs allow data, such as arrest booking information, to be easily transferred between agencies, saving officers time. Computers also enable staff to retrieve information faster for investigative and crime analysis.

GPS devices allow for tracking officer movements and dispatching officers closest to an incident. Knowing an officer’s exact location also enhances their safety in the event assistance is needed. Agencies with this technology have an edge over those that do not when it comes to attracting younger candidates.

The best officers take pride in knowing how to perform their duties and having the tools to maximize their effectiveness.

A few years ago, take-home cars were limited to command and on-call staff. In some areas of the country, take-home cars have become standard equipment. Departments that do not provide vehicles in those regions may have difficulty attracting and retaining officers. The assignment of a take-home car is worth at least $5,000 more in salary.

In addition, officers do not have to transfer equipment at shift changes, officers maintain their equipment better, and off-duty officers can respond directly to an emergency when activated. With recent increases in fuel prices, take-home vehicles are having an even greater impact on officers’ personal income.

Improvements in other personal items such as uniforms, footwear, and inclement weather gear have made this equipment lighter and more comfortable to use. For example, agencies that issue Gore-Tex® rain gear as opposed to rubber-coated raincoats may be perceived more desirable because of the comfort of the equipment. It also sends a subtle indicator that the department tries to provide the best for its staff.

Finally, agencies should not overlook the administrative support that ensures the prompt replacement and repair of equipment. The simple convenience of having replacement supplies like batteries; pens; stationary; and evidence-collection material such as fingerprint supplies, packaging material and field drug tests readily available often separates the good department from the exceptional.

Many agencies provide equipment to improve their safety, effectiveness, comfort and convenience for their officers. Recruiters should take the opportunity to highlight how their agency does a better job than the competition in meeting these needs for their employees. These seemingly insignificant items are often the determining factor in successfully recruiting and retaining an officer.

Dwayne Orrick has been the Cordele, GA Police chief for 18 years. He holds a Masters of Public Administration and a BA in criminal justice from the University of Georgia. He can be contacted at dorrick@bellsouth.net.

Published in Law and Order, Aug 2008

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