WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Even after a very visible recruitment campaign Winston-Salem Police Department leaders said they expect their next academy class to be about half as full as they’d like it.
Corporal Rhoneek Readus said applicants only have “about one week” before the door closes on the next group of new recruits. That’s despite only expecting around 25 people in the class and needing about 50 officers.
“These are people that have already filled out the applications necessary,” said Readus. “They've already done some testing with us as far as our modified police officers abilities as well as the reading comprehension test.”
The next step is the background interview, which according to Readus, always eliminates a few applicants. Readus said a few applicants are routinely eliminated from consideration during this stage of the application process because they haven’t been honest about their criminal history or past drug use.
According to the city website, convictions that would eliminate candidates include serious misdemeanors and felony driving under the influence convictions in the last five years.
“With 50 positions available we're not going to put 50 people in for the sake of putting 50 in. They're going to have to meet our testing and meet our qualifications,” said Readus.
K.C. Johnston is one of those potential new officers. He said he’s not surprised that recruitment numbers have come up a little short.
“It’s a very specific career path and you really have to want to do it in order to do it,” said Johnston, who saw his father work nearly 30 years as a police officer.
P.M. Hill is still shadowing an officer after spending the last six months going through the Academy. He said the application process is daunting.
“It causes some people to admit some things, maybe something they've never admitted before,” said Hill. “Unfortunately, that can disqualify some people but in all things you have to be honest.”
Even with a shortage of new recruits, the Winston-Salem Police Department said it has been successful in employing a new marketing campaign to attract more minority applicants.
“We're getting calls every day from our Hispanic communities and students from historically black universities and colleges,” said Readus. “They've seen our billboards, they want to know how they can get hired.”
Winston-Salem police hold two six-month academies every year. The following one begins next summer.