Inside the Successful Recruitment Strategies of the Stockton Police Department
This article is based upon an interview with Sergeant Jackie Borges with the Stockton California Police Department. Sergeant Borges is currently assigned to the personnel division, where one of her primary assignments is recruiting, hiring, and conducting background investigations. In addition, Sergeant Borges works to assist applicants throughout the recruitment, application, and hiring stages.
Stockton Police Department Faces Hiring Challenges
The Stockton Police Department serves a diverse community of over 360,000 citizens in Stockton, California. Currently, there are 371 sworn members in Stockton PD; however, they are authorized for 485 sworn personnel. Therefore, Stockton PD is actively recruiting and hiring officers like many other agencies.
Recently, agencies throughout the country have found themselves competing for an increasingly small pool of applicants. In contrast, there used to be many applicants vying for a small number of department openings. As the hiring field has become more competitive over the last three to five years, Stockton PD has found itself needing to provide additional assistance to applicants throughout the hiring process.
Stockton PD Goes the Extra Mile to Recruit New Officers
Stockton PD offers many different forms of assistance to its applicants. Within the recruiting stage, the department hosts both in-person and virtual events directed toward recruitment. Every two months, the department hosts a virtual recruiting event. At these presentations, personnel discusses opportunities within the department for both sworn and non-sworn positions. The department also discusses how recruits can apply for these various positions. Lastly, they allow recruits to ask any questions that they may have about the process or how they can better prepare themselves for the application process.
Stockton PD additionally takes internal measures to increase recruitment and hiring. When an individual applies to join the department, they are assigned a representative from the recruiting team. This recruiter remains assigned to the applicant throughout the application process and up to the day of their hiring. This designated representative from Stockton PD’s recruitment team works to develop a personal relationship with the applicant. The recruiter will reach out to the applicant and allow them to express any questions they may have about the upcoming application process. They also will offer the applicant the opportunity to join one of their workshops designed to help prepare the individual for the written and physical test.
Another offer the applicant may receive from their assigned recruiter is a ride-along with an officer. Once the application process is underway, the recruiter will send the applicant reminders of test dates and necessary items to bring to specific events and notify them of what documents they should be gathering for their background investigation. This effort to create a personal relationship makes applicants more invested in the department, especially if they are applying to multiple agencies.
Stockton PD Casts Wider Net for Recruits
Stockton PD is also expanding its targets for recruitment. Since July of last year, the department has been casting a much wider net for recruits, both geographically and demographically. For instance, the department has recently made trips to Sacramento and San Diego, California to visit military bases, junior colleges, and universities.
Not only is Stockton PD branching out from its own city to improve recruitment efforts, but it is also utilizing its members’ unique backgrounds to recruit individuals. For example, the department is attempting to recruit student-athletes using the chief’s experience as a Division 1 softball coach at San Jose University. In addition, Stockton PD’s recruitment office has recently reached out to college athletic directors and organized meetings with them to try and recruit their athletes.
Inside Stockton PD’s Workshops: How They’re Helping Applicants Succeed
Stockton PD offers workshops for applicants. The first aspect of these workshops consists of classroom-based learning. In this session, personnel from Stockton PD will review different sections of the Post Entry-Law Enforcement Test Battery, or PELLETB, which is required for all California applicants. In this workshop, applicants receive sample questions and instructions on why specific answers are correct and why the other answers are incorrect. This workshop is critical to Stockton PD’s recruitment strategy because they commonly experience the loss of applicants over the written test.
Additionally, applicants are offered a workshop on the physical requirements for the job. This workshop is designed to closely align with the physical exam applicants must pass to be hired. For example, applicants are shown a five-and-a-half-foot solid wall, which is used in the department’s physical abilities test, and are instructed on multiple ways they can get over the wall.
Stockton PD even offers applicants the opportunity to join officers in a separate modified workout to further educate them on what lies ahead in the hiring process. The primary goals of the classroom and physical workshops are to increase the applicant’s confidence and put their minds at ease by alleviating them of the ‘unknown.’ These events are highly successful in improving applicants’ test scores. She has repeatedly seen individuals unsuccessfully take their Post Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery, or PELLETB, before attending one of the department’s workshops but pass after attending.
Stockton PD’s Recruiting Team Helps Applicants Overcome Hurdles
Assigned recruiters again play a significant role following the PELLETB test. An internal spreadsheet is used to track the applicants’ status in the hiring process. Suppose an individual still needs to pass the test, written or physical. In that case, their recruiter will again contact them and offer resources such as links to study guides, or they may even attempt to schedule the applicant for another workshop. This is just another point of intervention where Stockton PD’s recruitment team proactively attempts to identify issues an applicant may be experiencing and offer a solution or aid to that problem.
Suppose an applicant is successfully passing their tests. In that case, their recruiter will likewise reach out to them to offer their congratulations and to prepare them for the next step so they constantly remain one step ahead of the hiring process. Whether that is offering resources to increase performance or congratulating them on moving on to the next stage, Stockton PD emphasizes the importance of having a personal and proactive relationship with applicants.
How Stockton PD’s Applicant Assistance Programs Boost Recruitment Success
In addition to improved test scores, Stockton PD can measure its successes in recruitment in different ways. Since the department has begun assisting applicants during the hiring process, they have consistently seen a decline in the loss of recruits. Before Stockton PD began to offer many of these applicant-assistance programs, Stockton PD had 11 applicants withdraw from the hiring process, with four individuals joining other departments. Since starting these programs in June of last year, only a few applicants have waived because they decided to join a different department.
Innovative Approaches to Recruitment: Lessons from Stockton PD
Police Departments and other law enforcement agencies throughout the country are experiencing new challenges regarding recruitment and applicant retention. More than ever before, successful recruitment is relationship-based. By implementing some of the unique approaches that Stockton PD’s personnel division has ventured into, a police department can further stand out to applicants and increase both the number and quality of hires.