HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville police are going to new lengths to strengthen and expand the department.
They're beefing up their recruiting efforts in many ways to find top shelf candidates who want to serve and protect.
It's getting harder for police departments around the country to recruit and in the booming Huntsville job market, it's an even bigger challenge for HPD so they want to make their positions as attractive as possible to lure those interested in wearing the uniform.
In order to do that, they're attacking recruiting on all fronts.
From launching a new Instagram page, to ramping up their Twitter account, and doing more targeted advertising, the Huntsville Police Department is going big to find the very best.
Veteran police officer Karl Kissich is at the helm of recruiting for the Huntsville Police Department. He says the new methods will have a big impact in connecting with candidates. He explained that the agency is reaching out farther than they ever have before and in new ways to attract the most qualified candidates.
"Our chief and our command staff have really invested in our recruiting efforts and took a really hard look at what we can do better as a department to illustrate all of the good things the city of Huntsville has, along with what we as a department can do to attract the most qualified individuals to come and protect and be city servants," Kissich said.
One of the things HPD is doing is getting out into local schools to talk to students about the profession in the hopes that more will want to one day become police officers.
"We really wanted to focus much more in the middle school and high schools especially and begin planting that seed and showing them the professionalism and the pride and the opportunities that are here with the Huntsville Police Department," Kissich stated.
They're also ramping up everything online, from a new website to social media and YouTube.
"We have a brand new website that we are launching. We integrated an applicant tracking system to closely where our numbers are at when we open up our application process. Additionally, our social media campaign has been huge. We're launching a new YouTube channel where we'll have videos. We have a whole set of recruiting videos for our police department," Kissich added.
Their new website has live chat capabilities.
There's a strong push towards transitioning veterans, reservists and National Guardsmen. And there's workout sessions with applicants and those in the hiring process.
City Councilman Devyn Keith visited one of the sessions and tweeted a photo, applauding the department for their new recruitment methods.
"I wanted to meet the recruits who would apply to be on our police force and let them know that they're making a very big decision to become a part of the Huntsville community. I just wanted to connect with the people that could potentially respond to a call from myself or my foster child or anyone in my community. It's a great opportunity to be proactive in reaching new recruits and reaching people in other communities that look like the people in the communities we police," Keith said.
He's worked with HPD officials and went on several ridealongs, in an effort to focus on neighborhoods that have become too comfortable with crime.
"Not only it is a personal connection, but from an administrative standpoint, we're making decisions to be proactive and reaching out to places that we maybe haven't done before to increase our diversity numbers and have our police department be a reflection of the community it polices," Keith added.
"They can come on up to the police academy and do some PT. We're going to get out there and we're going to physically prepared. They can ask any questions about the departments. It allows us to get them into the culture and the professional and the pride that comes with being a Huntsville police officer," Kissich said.
HPD is expanding their Ranger Program for 16-20 year olds to learn about policing. They get a uniform and do ridealongs with officers.
The department has also expanded their internship program for criminal justice students, to reach out to more colleges and universities.
"We have a lot of great things going from all aspects, not just the physical aspects of recruiting here locally within our school systems, but also focusing in on the technology that is available to us and utilizing those platforms to attract individuals to our department and see just how great the city of Huntsville is and the high standards HPD has in our hiring," Kissich stated.
If you're interested in becoming a police officer in Huntsville, email Officer Kissich at email@example.com.
Copyright 2018 WAFF. All rights reserved.