TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Recruiting at the Topeka Police Department has never looked the same, or more successful.
A group of officers re-vamped the strategies and process. One of those officer was also just named officer of the year, Sgt. Vidal Campos. He’s been with the department for 17 years.
“I did a lot of investigations for 10 years, but being around new recruits it’s almost energizing,” Sgt. Campos said. “It’s like, I feel the same energy that they do. I feel just as motivated as they do.”
Finding candidates to consider a career as a Topeka police officer is on the rise. Sgt. Campos said they’ve changed the game for getting recruits, and more importantly, keeping them.
Three years ago is when strategies started to change. Today, you’ll see officers in university classes working to get to know future candidates.
Sgt. Campos said they still attend career fairs, but they take it a step further by getting in the classroom to make a connection.
“We recruit similarly to the way college athletes or people in the military are recruited. We want to make sure that it is a family, that we are family and this is why we want you to work for us, and since we started doing that, believe it or not I think the numbers almost doubled.”
You’ll notice a number of changes in the way Topeka recruits officers. Here are a few:
- Taking recruiting on the road to different university’s across the county. Along with universities around Northeast Kansas, officers visit and recruit from University of Southern Mississippi, Lincoln University and more.
- Applicants weren’t always allowed to do “ride-alongs.” That’s much different, because now applicants will go on two “ride-alongs” during the hiring process.
- The physical test has been streamlined and can be done through a mobile classroom the department brings to different campuses.
- Officers also visit area bases to make presentations each spring to those in the military.
- Veterans who are in service and have a current and passing physical fitness test, they don’t have to take the physical test. Officers just bring booklets and pencils. The department does this as a way to reward soldiers and create one less hurdle they have to get through to transition.
- Updating the internship program to last four weeks. There’s 14 students currently enrolled in the internship program. This not only sells the department, but sells the capital city as whole. The department works with FORGE as well to get more interns involved from surrounding states.
“The training department doesn’t have a negative attitude. We’re forward thinkers, we’re going to go get them and we’re going to go out and talk to them.”
National law enforcement conferences have also asked the Topeka Police Department to present their strategies to other agencies.