BURLINGTON, N.C. – Within a few weeks, the Burlington Police Department will open its doors to people who want to become police officers.
“Allow folks in our building, make them feel welcome, interact with them,” said Captain Brian Long.
The department is hosting its first open house next month.
“We’ve always gone to other events outside the department and tried to find good officers,” Long said.
It’s something new the department is trying out to bring in more recruits.
Like police departments nationwide, Burlington has seen a drop in overall applications.
From 2015 to 2016, applications were down 20 percent, according to Long.
“We’re trying to meet those challenges,” he said. “It has been challenging.”
In September, the department started using billboards to attract more applicants.
They’re also expediting the hiring process, switching to electronic applications and hiring extra staff to process background checks.
“Usually when they apply, they’re ready to come to work,” Long said. “We try to get them here as soon as we can.”
Long says the department is also making sure its applicant pool is diverse.
“The community wants that,” Long said. “We want that. I think it makes our department stronger when we have that diversity within our own department.”
In 2016, Long says the department hired one of its most diverse group of officers.
“We hired a total of 24 people,” he said. Fifteen white males, five black males, two Hispanic males, one American Indian male and one Hispanic female.”
Long says the change in strategy is needed for changing times.
“Law enforcement across the board are seeing that they’re having to develop and change as recruiting efforts need to,” he said.
Police are hoping the open house will help bring them more applicants for their basic law enforcement training class in August.
The open house takes place at the Burlington Police Department on April 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.