Sharp-eyed New York City subway riders saw the ads and posted them on social media: D.C. police asking foodies, gamers, techies and influencers to join their department.
DC police are recruiting on the NYC subway pic.twitter.com/TuDKHs6Of9
— Kate Hinds (@katehinds) February 2, 2022
Scan the QR code, and you’ll end up at D.C. police’s hiring page. So, why have they placed an ad in the Big Apple’s transit system and why foodies, gamers, techies and influencers?
D.C. police spokesman Sean Hickman said that to their knowledge, this is the first time the department has recruited officers in New York City. He said that in a few states, including New York, those who want to join the force have to wait a few years before they are hired. But not in D.C., which hires recruit classes monthly.
“Because of this, many people from New York and New Jersey join our department. In January, we launched our NYC system-wide subway ad campaign. We want to attract people who want to make a difference in the community now — not wait on a list for a few years,” Hickman said.
OK. Now what about …
“Our new recruitment campaign is seeking to reach Millennials, Generation Z members, veterans and second-degree candidates, or those who may have never considered a career in law enforcement but have the soft skills needed to be good police officers. These skills include: empathy, conflict resolution, strong communication skills and more. We want people to see themselves through our recruitment campaign and encourage them to apply,” Hickman said.
But there’s a subway in the D.C. area, too, so why not advertise there?
D.C. police said that due to the coronavirus pandemic, Metrorail ridership is “significantly reduced,” unlike the New York City Subway, which they said continue to see “strong ridership.” The department is still advertising on the exterior of Metrobuses throughout the D.C. region.
Recruitment ads on transit systems are currently focused on D.C. and New York City, but Hickman said digital and social media ads have reached other markets.
“At the end of the day, we want to hire the best candidates to be police officers in the Nation’s Capital — and that requires us to embrace new marketing strategies,” D.C. police said.
Last year, D.C. police received more than $3 million from the Justice Department that the city will use to hire 25 additional officers for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also asked the council for $11 million last summer to hire 20 additional officers for the previous fiscal year (which ended Sept. 30, 2021).
Bowser cited a hiring freeze in 2020 and attrition on the force as reasons there are only 3,550 officers currently serving the District, the city’s lowest in more than two decades.
WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.