OCPD Looking For Qualified Applicants Ahead Of April Police Academy's Start Date
When Oklahoma City voters approved the Better Streets, Safer City initiative in 2017, they provided the means through revenue from a quarter cent sales tax increase for the police department to add 129 officers to the force.
Now, the department is asking citizens to help again: consider applying for one of those 129 positions.
Those involved with recruiting applicants say it's become a real challenge.
"It's absolutely gotten more difficult over the years," said Lt. Kristin Polansky, supervisor of OCPD's recruiting unit.
Polansky says a variety of incidents in recent years have increased negative perceptions of law enforcement, resulting in fewer quality job applicants.
"We've got to be a little more proactive," Polansky said, "as far as going and getting people, good applicants."
One way the department is doing that, she said, is using money from the new sales tax to hire a marketing firm to put together a marketing campaign. The effort launched last month -- radio ads and billboards are pushing the slogan, "Discover Your Calling."
"We're reaching out to more of the community, trying to get as many people as possible," said Polansky, "because there are a lot of parts of the city that just don't -- they don't see the police department."
The campaign is not only trying to reach people who don't see police work as a job option, but also those who may think police work is not an option for someone of their race, gender, or ethnicity.
"Whether it's the African-American community, Hispanic community, Asian community, or female community, we need everybody ... it's across the board, we're trying to increase the diversity on this department," Polansky said.
Beyond the appeal of potentially discovering that policing is your "true calling," Polansky points out that OCPD pays well, offers very good benefits, and, as the largest department in the state, has plenty of room to move around.
But Polansky offers a word of warning: "You need to be in shape." Mental and physical fitness are requirements, she said, because the job isn't easy.
"And we don't people to come in thinking it's easy," Polansky said. "It's a very rewarding job, a very fun job, a job where you can do a lot of good, but it's not easy."
Polansky said there's an academy going on right now, and another in September that is already filled. But she says a large academy scheduled for April is not filled, and they need 75 qualified applicants.
If you want to learn more, go to www.joinokcpd.com.