The Atlanta Police Department wants to be a brand, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When people hear “Atlanta police,” the department wants them to think: I want to work there. Times are tough for police recruiters. Retirement-age baby boomers are starting to head for the door, and younger officers aren’t so likely to stay around for 30 years. The department’s not getting so many applicants from the military as it once did. Recruiters for the region’s biggest and most urban police force compete with more than two dozen law enforcement agencies in the Atlanta area.
Atlanta has hired an advertising agency to “brand” its image –- believed to be the first such move in the department’s history. Recruiters are thinking local, holding more job fairs at police headquarters and more carefully choosing when to go out of state to recruit. In 2007 the department hired 251 recruits, compared with 204 in 2006 and 138 in 2005. It lost 478 officers in those three years. About 90 percent of applicants are weeded out in the hiring process, many for having criminal convictions, lying to recruiters about drug use or being fired from a previous job. The department’s ad agency, the Bernard Hodes Group, has worked with police in New York City and Phoenix. It plans to translate aspects of Atlanta police work that attract new hires into words and images that stick in people’s minds.