Is your agency having trouble filling law enforcement jobs or even getting enough applicants for a hiring process? If you answered “yes” you are in good company. In fact, we are hearing from many law enforcement agencies who describe recruitment now as a “crisis.”
Our partners at the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office featured an interview with two industrial psychologists who have studied law enforcement recruitment challenges. In this podcast, you will learn some strategies that a proving effective in helping attract applicants.
Here are some of the key points we found in this discussion related to recruiting LGBTQ+ applicants.
First and foremost is to examine the agency culture and its readiness for having openly gay and transgender employees. The commitment to support LGBTQ+ employees must start at the top with the chief executive. Evidence of an inclusive and welcoming workplace include having policies in place that prohibit exclusive behaviors. Start by reviewing our “Signs of an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplace.”
- Targeting recruitment starts with creating recruitment materials that speak specifically to LGBTQ+ people. This means using imagery that show LGBTQ+ officers, agency participation in LGBTQ+ events, and including statements that specifically call to sexual orientation and gender identity minorities. You must do more than say “women an minorities encouraged to apply.”
- Seek out applicants by doing recruitment presentation at LGBTQ+ locations and events. This means visiting LGBTQ+ pride centers, attending Pride events, and even hosting a meet and greet at a local LGBTQ+ bar. Ideally, LGBTQ+ officers would be the ones doing these recruitment events so they can talk about their own successful experience in the career.
- Go to colleges and universities and seek out the LGBTQ+ student clubs. Visit a club meeting to talk-up law enforcement careers.
Emphasize Mental and Physical Health Benefits
- Improving officer wellness is a significant focus for the profession right now and a priority for many agencies. Applicants today are looking for benefits and working conditions that promote a life-work balance. If your agency offers things like gym memberships, paid time for working out, paid family leave, paid mental health support, wellness support, and peer support programs, be sure to call that out in recruitment fliers. Think about all of the benefits your agency offers that, perhaps, others do not.
How Is Your Agency Advertising The Job
- Look carefully at how job opportunities are being promoted on social media channels, websites, and job fliers. If your agency has signed on to the “30 by 30” initiative, include this commitment in your job fliers. Pay close attention to how the job of law enforcement officer is portrayed. As the podcast suggests, not everyone is looking to jump out of a helicopter or repel down the side of a building. Many young people are truly interested in the community service aspects of the job. If your agency is committed to community policing, now is the time to brag about it.
- If your agency has LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, like those listed in the box above on this page, identify these policies specifically in the recruitment materials.
- Highlight the opportunities your agency offers for special assignments and promotion.
- Create marketing materials that specifically speak to LGBTQ+ applicants. The San Jose, California Police Department has an exemplary example of how to do this. You will see that this recruitment video shows same-sex couples, but the storyline can be replicated for all demographic groups.
- Think about the gap between what the law enforcement job really is in your jurisdiction and how the job is portrayed in the images and descriptions in print and digital recruitment materials.
What Will Your Rank And File Say
- If an LGBTQ+ person approached any one of your patrol officers and asked if LGBTQ+ people would be welcomed in your agency, how would every one of your officers respond?
- How would the person doing your background investigations for applicants respond if they discovered an applicant is gay or transgender? LGBT awareness training is absolutely essential for anyone doing background investigations including those who your agency might contract with. We hear from applicants all the time complaints of how they were treated by an obviously homophobic or transphobic background investigator.
- How would an officer hosting a ride-along with an LGBTQ+ applicant respond about the agency culture related to LGBTQ+ people?These are the most difficult part of creating an effective and successful recruitment of LGBTQ+ people. It’s easy to put an inclusive policy in writing, but much more difficult to change the way individual employees think and behave. LGBT awareness training is a key component to addressing behavior problems and closing the gap between what we say about our inclusive workplace and how inclusive it actually is.
How We Can Help
If your agency is truly welcoming of LGBTQ+ applicants and can demonstrate that it has an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace, we would be happy to help market your job announcement on our website and social media channels at no cost. We are eager to promote law enforcement career opportunities that offer LGBTQ+ applicants a chance at success.