Monday, August 13, 2007

New class begins

Last Thursday morning, our fall academy class began, as promised. We have 18 new recruits who have begun their careers at the Lincoln police department. Everyone always enjoys the sight of each new training class. It reminds us all of the beginning of our own careers, and you can't help but smile thinking about the many experiences, challenges, frustrations, adventures, and triumphs laid out before these class members.

There were over 400 applicants for the 18 seats in Classroom C. That's been the trend over the past decade. While you'll hear a lot in policing about the "cop crunch"--too few applicants--this has not been the case at LPD.

Over the past 12 years, we've hired 3.9% of the people who have applied to be Lincoln police officers. To be fair, a little more than half the applicants are really serious, but that's still a large pool from which to draw.

We'll be doing it again, too, as we are presently recruiting for a class scheduled to begin in early 2008. We expect to be hiring a class of about the same size. Due to two consecutive peak years for retirements, these will be the largest back-to-back classes since 2000, when we hired classes of 22 and 19.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

to the new recruits: good luck to all!

remember, you'll have many helpers within the community; the eyes and ears sans a badge. i am one of them, which prompts me to remind the chief that there indeed is such a thing as free lunch. :)

Atticus said...

Some random thoughts on LPD's hiring: I agree that 400 is a good number of applicants and it is nice to have those kinds of numbers applying for what I feel is the best job around; however, my concern is the number of QUALIFIED applicants. When we have a fair portion of the applicants unable to pass a basic reading/writing test, it's a little scary. Especially when they get a pretty good description and example of the kind of test they will be taking. I won't even go in to the problems we encounter on the polygragh examination. I've heard rumors or people applying who have active arrest warrants! Sheesh! Secondly, I don't know if our hiring panel process is ideal. The fact is, those on the panel do not get to form their own opinions on the applicants. They can see test scores, demographics, personal history statements, etc. But the interviews are still conducted by a single interviewer. The panel then hears from the interviewer and gets the interviewer's impressions on the applicant. This still gets down to one person's gut feeling on the applicant, and that feeling is then passed on to the panel. The panel almost always goes with that interviewer's gut feeling. That's no different than when Hawkins used to do it all himself (Of course he hired me so maybe I shouldn't complain). What if two or three others at least sat in on the interview? Then we wouldn't be relying as much on one person's opinion or gut feeling. Another thought on the applicants themselves- Let's determine their motivation for applying. You mentioned that only about half of the applicants are serious. I want people next to me that want to do this job. Not someone who is looking at the benefits, pay, or how cool they look in a uniform. I've had several recruits tell me that they applied because they saw an ad in the paper and thought it looked like an interesting job. Up to that point they'd never thought of a career in law enforcement ever. If you are just looking for a job, find one with less responsibility, less liability, and less direct impact on our community. Those recruits are typically weeded out during training or in their first few years, but they take up slots in the academy that could be filled by people that don't just want a job; they want THIS job. Sometimes I think we focus a little too much on a college degree and too little on life experiences. I'm tired of hearing the younger officers complain about working weekends, nights, holidays. Didn't they realize that LPD is open 24/7? Obviously someone has to be on duty during those times. Seniority dictates that generally it is the younger officers who work those hours. Pay your dues! I know we will never have a system that is perfect and that we are trying. I do think we can tweak it a bit. I Didn't mean to go off on a rant, sometimes that just happens.

Tom Casady said...

atticus-

That's absolutely hilarious. You're apologizing for going off on a rant--when this blog is noting but a rant!

I agree it would be nice to have more people involved in the interviews, but the scheduling logistics and cost are prohibitive. Next best thing: several employees involved in the discussion and consideration.

For what it's worth, after 20 years of being in some kind of position involving hiring (I had that job in Training before I bolted for the Sheriff's Office), I think the recruits we get today are not substantially different than they were when I (and apparently you) were hired. Better in some respects, worse in others, but basically the same.

I'm one of those people you're talking about who "...thought it looked like an interesting job. Up to that point they'd never thought of a career in law enforcement ever."

I'm completely with you on the 24/7/365 issue. Shift work is a fundemental fact in police work. I sure did my time, but many officers have doubled that and then some. Work a decade of seconds with T-W or T-W-T off, then tell me how annoyed you are that you can't call in on Friday to get Saturday off to go water skiing.

Tom Casady said...

By the way, back in the dark ages of the early 1980's, I recall quite clearly LPD Sgt. J.D. Hawkins (currently of the Fort Collins, CO Police Department), taking great delight in the occasional applicant who he got to arrest upon appearing for the job interview. The phenomenon of goofballs applying to be police officers, when they have absolutely no chance, is universal. Call up Chief Steve Lamken at the Grand Island, NE, Police Department and ask him about "Mr. Gaylen."

Anonymous said...

this is too comical! as usual, just when i think i've heard it all, i read about recruits with active arrest warrants applying for a job! truth, always stranger than any fiction.

i've also long been concerned about the larger number of people sans basic reading/writing skills. scary indeed!

i do agree that more than one individual should be part of the interview process.

Anonymous said...

"The phenomenon of goofballs applying to be police officers"

Chief states the above comment.
Lets be fair and mention the few officers who have gone "Sour" on the job and slipped by your goofball screeners. I would never apply for the job and waste your time or more important, mine. The hiring practices of the city are about as corrupt as it comes.
bbrk

Jenn said...

First of all, good luck to all the recruits. I just want to tell them that they are heading into a VERY good Police Dept. I was always curious to what kind of camaraderie was out ther after I got out of the Marine Corps. After my husband's recent surgery I find out that there are A LOT of wonderful Police Officers out there. They are taking care of one of their own. (Do the same recruits when you are out there). I want to thank all of the great officers who have reached out and helped their fellow officer. I feel more confident that my husband has some great backup (even if there is a shortage of Officers). Recruits, please keep up the camaraderie that these officers have shown- you know who you all are, thank you so much. Thank you also to the PD for accomodating the light duty Officers. My husband loves his job and will be glad to get back.

jen said...

Chief,
just curious why is it that Officers have to refuse a free lunch? In my culture, and I am sure in many others, food is not refused- especially when it is given out of gratitude.

Tom Casady said...

Well, Jen, about the time the restaurant owner gets arrested for DWI, you'd understand why accepting the discount was not a good idea.

Little gratuities are a slippery slope towards the justification of increasingly big favors for looking the other way. It may seem like a long distance from a free order of fries to big-time corruption, but it's not as far as you might think once you start down that road.

Anonymous said...

I can see how taking free lunch from the restaurant management might be ethically dicey...how about if I see an LPD Officer or two eating at the same restaurant where I'm eating, and as I leave and stop by the register to pay for my meal, I mischieviously pay for their lunch also before I exit? Would I just be burning my money? Do they still have to pay anyway, even if I've already done it and am long gone?

They wouldn't know who I was, just a guy that wants to say thanks in a sly way. There'd be no quid pro quo possible, at least not that I can see.

Just a taxpayer wanting to let them know that they are appreciated before they go back out in the 100-degree heat with that cooker of a ballistic vest making them even hotter. I know it's cooler than MOPP gear, but it's still not shorts, an aloha shirt, and a straw Panama hat.

That gives me an interesting idea for a summer uniform, with the right LPD-theme pattern in the shirt fabric.

Anonymous said...

To anon who wants to thank us... just a kind word of thanks if you feel so compelled, or a handshake is more than sufficient. I was eating lunch at a restaurant with another officer recently and a gentleman came up and said 'Thank you' and for a second I thought, 'what for?', (that sort of thing occurs infrequently). It then occurred to me that he was thanking us for the job we do and it made my day. We hear all of the negative comments constantly and although we know there is a lot of support out there we do not hear from the silent majority. Doing the job that I love to do and getting thanked by those I do it for is a wonderful thing!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chief, LPD IS VERY PROFESSIONAL...Keep Up Your Enthusiasm! What are your thoughts on lateral police officers entering a modified short academy and hitting the streets to help the citizens along with cutting academy costs. Thanks!

Tom Casady said...

You're either reading my mind or bugging my conference room! I just pulled a meeting together about this at 0830 this morning.

I'm inclined to give it a try in January, when we'll be hiring in the neighborhood of 20 officers.

My preliminary look at this suggests that we ought to be able to get a Nebraska-certified officer with prior experience ready for field training with a short two week orientation. It might be a bit longer, depending on whether he or she already has such things as NIMS/ICS, radar certification, current CPR, and Intoxilyzer.

My idea would be that the field training officers can figure out how much or little field training is necessary, based on each individual's needs, and if we have a particular topic an experienced officer needs a brush up on, we can bring him or her in for that class the next time it's on the training schedule.

We'll see if we can make this work.

Anonymous said...

For some auxiliary positions, perhaps some thought could be given to retired Officers and Deputies, as well as honorably-discharged former military police officers. I can see where their experience wold really shorten the refresher training time and getting them up to speed for support duty.