Police departments search for new recruits in Minnesota

Recruiting efforts have never been more important for police departments in and out of Minnesota, as staffing shortages have created some big challenges.

An event in Brooklyn Park on Tuesday was filled with police departments from all over Minnesota, local, state, and federal, and also a few from out of state all hoping to spark the interest of at least one of the 300 or so recruits that come through.

Bringing out all the bells and whistles from state patrol to Brooklyn Park police, it was a show and tell. The conversations are crucial as most agencies here report they are short-staffed. Mesa, Arizona has a department about the size of Minneapolis and is down 89 officers. Minneapolis of course is looking for about 300. In Dallas, they’re down about 500 in a 3,000-officer department.

"When you hear the word Dallas, when they come to the table, they say 'Ooh Dallas, y’all go through a lot of stuff,'" explained Dallas Police Department Officer Cherika Smith. "We do but a lot of those calls, 99 percent, people just want to talk to you honestly."

Mesa says they’ve had most of their conversations with police looking for a change rather than new recruits and they do use the warmer climate to pull them in. One department only down one officer is Corcoran, Minnesota. It’s an opportunity that’s not for the adrenaline junkie but more for those who want to focus on community service.

"Larger departments run from call to call," said Detective Tim Spellacy with the Corcoran Police Department. "We have a little bit more flexibility like I said to spend the time with the citizens and really address their problems sit down with them and help them."

For those just starting to dream about being in law enforcement, they say they’re in it to make a difference.

"I want to be a police officer because I've been seeing a lot of stuff going on in the country and I just want to try to help with the problems," said Osseo High School junior Germaine Woodly. "I feel like me being a police officer, I could get a lot of people to stop doing a lot of bad things."

"Ever since I was younger I did want to help people and just make life more enjoyable for people," said Ruby Rios-Romero.

Now all of this is organized by a Minnesota group called Law Enforcement Opportunities. The purpose of the group is to promote cultural diversity in law enforcement.