Police Recruit In Puerto Rico As Shortages Escalate

The Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland, currently experiencing staffing shortages, is looking to expand its recruitment efforts in Puerto Rico. Captain Nicholas Collins of the police department, a 17-year veteran, emphasized the many perks of working for the department, citing it as one of the best in the state, if not the country. The department patrols a county adjacent to the U.S. capital and is currently 300 to 350 officers short of its target of 1,786 personnel.

Their strategy includes contacting the broader Latino community to recruit bilingual and Spanish-speaking candidates. The department has even released Spanish-language television advertisements showcasing job opportunities to further these efforts.

Speaking on the contrast between the climates of Puerto Rico and Maryland, Captain Collins humorously noted the cooler fall weather in Maryland as a potential draw. The nationwide police staffing challenges have been attributed, in part, to movements and sentiments that arose in 2020 following the tragic incident involving George Floyd in Minneapolis. The subsequent civil unrest and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic led many officers across the country to reconsider their careers.

Additionally, other police departments near Washington, D.C., have ramped up their recruitment campaigns. Montgomery County in Maryland offers a $20,000 bonus, while D.C.’s Metropolitan Police have put up recruitment ads in the New York City subway system with an offer of $25,000 bonuses. Fairfax County in Virginia also provides incentives, especially targeting individuals fluent in foreign languages and military veterans. Reports indicate that recruitment has seen a positive trend recently, especially among younger individuals and those considering a mid-life career switch.

Prince George’s Police Department recruit Jermya Moody shared her enthusiasm about joining the force, highlighting the evolving nature of policing and its increased focus on community involvement. She expressed her eagerness to be a part of this transformation.

The San Francisco police department is extending its recruitment drive to college campuses in Texas. Meanwhile, Covington, Kentucky, is encouraging retired officers to rejoin the force through one-year contract offers.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is taking a politically-oriented approach to recruitment. He’s seeking officers from states with lenient crime policies, such as abolishing cash bail. In particular, Florida is appealing to officers from Illinois with a $5,000 signing incentive.

Smaller towns face a different challenge as these larger cities and counties adopt innovative recruitment strategies. In the last two years, a dozen towns have had to disband their police departments due to staffing issues.