- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln’s police chief says there are many challenges in recruiting good candidates, illustrated by the fact that only 16 out of 335 applicants since April made it to training.

Chief Jeff Bliemeister will be looking for a deeper and more diverse pool of applicants, according to the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2enDMaq ).

According to Bliemeister, recruitment challenges include making sure applicants meet certain qualifications, such as not having criminal convictions with sentences of a year or more, a written test of basic education and the physical fitness test. In addition, applicants go through one-on-one interviews, evaluation by a hiring panel and a polygraph.

“It’s a very difficult job to get, and it should be,” Bliemeister said. “We don’t want low standards. … We’re searching for people who want to make a difference. I believe this process does it.”

Once the Lincoln Police Department hires officers, it has had good luck keeping them. The chief said the department had an 83 percent retention rate of new hires since 2011.

Aside from the hiring process, another reason why potential officers decline to join the force is the low starting salary of $17 an hour. The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office starts new deputies at $23 an hour, according to Bliemeister.

Bliemeister said the department is working with the city’s human resources staff on recruiting ideas and that law enforcement clubs have been started in high schools.

“We have to get to kids earlier,” said Public Safety Director Tom Casady. “We can tell them these are the things that will follow you and disqualify you from being a police officer.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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