Boston will launch an unprecedented police recruiting campaign today, counting on snazzy ads and billboards to reverse a troubling downturn in the number and quality of applicants, reports the Boston Globe. The sophisticated $100,000 marketing blitz features 11 current officers working with youths, taking crime-scene photos, riding a motorcycle, and performing other duties — all with the slogan, “Many Jobs, One Career, Boston’s Future.”
Designed by the department, the campaign features billboards as well as ads online, in newspapers, and at bus shelters. The campaign will continue through April 2, the last day to sign up for the next state civil service exam on May 19. Department “ambassadors” will also fan out to job fairs and community meetings. Police Commissioner Edward Davis said the campaign will focus on attracting more candidates from diverse backgrounds, candidates with language skills, and a higher-caliber pool of candidates. He is especially concerned with bolstering the applicant pool after a string of high-profile corruption cases, most notably the FBI arrests in July of three officers accused of guarding shipments of what they believed to be cocaine. The number of test takers interested in joining the Boston police dropped from 5,430 in 1997 to 1,345 the last time the civil service exam was offered in 2005. Of that shrunken pool, many fail the test, meaning the real number of eligible officers is far smaller, forcing the department to hire applicants with lower scores.