Spring 2017

Crestview Police Recruitment Campaign Focuses on Small-Town Advantages By Brian Hughes, Public Information Officer, Crestview Police Department

A small Northwest Florida city’s modest police department is overcoming recruitment challenges with an in- house developed recruitment campaign emphasizing its caring officers, family-like atmosphere and opportu- nities for advancement.

Like law enforcement agencies throughout the country—and close to home—the Crestview Police Department faces a major recruit- ment hurdle: being a police officer just isn’t sexy these days. After two years during which a handful of rogue cops, through headline-grabbing excesses, made life difficult for dedicated officers nationwide, filling vacancies in Crestview’s ranks and at other re- gional law enforcement agencies has become difficult.

“Law enforcement officers in certain areas have been ostracized,” William Looper, Northwest Florida State College Criminal Justice department director and head of its law enforcement academy, said. “There’s no other profession in which some people hate you as soon as you’re hired,” Crestview Police Commander Andrew Schneider said. “If you become an E.M.T. people respect you for saving lives. If you become a fireman, people love you for driving that big, red truck. But if you become a police officer, there are people out there who will hate you for en- forcing the law.”

This poster is the centerpiece of the Crestview Police Department’s new “Cops Who Care” recruitment campaign, and depicts actual Crestview officers in various departments and divisions, including Honor Guard, Dispatch, Evidence, Patrol, Investigations, K-9, Traffic, Community Services and S.W.A.T.

ACADEMY APPLICANTS DECREASE Looper, a 30-plus-year law enforcement veteran who is also chief of the college’s police department, said there was a noticeable decrease in applicants for this spring’s police academy, which started February 6, 2017. “We’ve never had an issue filling an academy until this spring,” Looper said. “I think we’re losing a few applicants just because of the negativity focused on law enforcement based on certain cases that have gotten national attention.” But, he added, bad officers are “way, way, way the exception.”

With four tentative Crestview officers currently in the academy and three certified graduates undergoing the department’s stringent background investigation—which exceeds state standards—the Crestview Police De- partment is presently short only one officer from its authorized 51 patrol force. That’s far fewer than some local agencies, some of which report deficits of dozens of officers.

COPS WHO CARE To attract qualified applicants without lowering its standards, the department began testing a new recruit- ment campaign in January. Based on the theme, “Cops Who Care,” Chief Tony Taylor officially unveiled the campaign for Mayor David Cadle February 27, 2017.

HIGHER STANDARDS But even with a shortage of applicants, Crestview PD has maintained high applicant standards. “All over the country, and even close to home, law enforcement agencies are lowering their standards to attract more officers,” Chief Taylor said. “That’s not going to happen on my watch.” “I am very pleased with this effort,” Mayor Cadle, who oversees the city’s emergency responders, said. “This targets the very type of person we want to hire for what is a high-visibility job and can be a high-stress profession.”

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