Police departments focus on recruiting, community policing on National Night – NBC4 Washington
DC area police departments marked the National Night Out on Tuesday, an evening where the departments host events to strengthen relationships between police and the communities they serve.
The event comes as many local departments say they are struggling to recruit new agents. They hoped that the events of National Night Out would help them meet these challenges.
Amid continued calls for reform and social justice, an increase in gun violence and mass shootings, and in January an attack on the Capitol that drew international attention as police were rushed by a crowd, the year saw an intense searchlight placed on the police.
All of these factors combined have resulted in fewer people signing up to serve, affecting Prince George County and the Town of Bowie in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia, to name a few.
News4’s Shomari Stone reports on law enforcement efforts to encourage community policing.
“We have lost a few hundred officers right now,” said Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George County Police Department.
Several police chiefs told News4 it was difficult to recruit in the current climate.
“We used to do a physical agility test and 30 people show up. Now we do and maybe five show up,” Bowie Police Chief John Nesky said.
In June, the Montgomery County Police Academy had many empty seats.
“You can’t hide from the reality of what people think about law enforcement in today’s environment,” said then Chief Marcus Jones, of the Montgomery County Police Department. .
In Prince George County, six people were shot dead last weekend. Aziz said his force was understaffed.
“Of course we would like to have more officers,” Aziz said. “We would like to have a better climate for officers to join us.”
Many have used the events of National Night Out for possible recruiting.
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said he hopes to hire more people of color.
“We have to go to these communities, identify the people we want to join our ranks and serve our communities,” he said.
In addition to recruiting events, some local departments have another tactic for finding new agents – offering signing and referral bonuses.
“We’re actually going to give a bonus of $ 500 to whoever gives us a recruit that we hire,” Nesky said.
Departments must find new solutions as they try to fill their ranks while implementing reform.