PHOENIX - At a press conference Monday at the Northern Arizona University's North Valley Campus, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams laid out the goal of the latest collaborative recruiting effort for local and state agencies.
"You're not calling us to invite us to a wedding," Williams said. "You're calling us on your worst day of your life. You have someone who looks like you, who thinks like you, who processes information like you do. And that only serves to make us stronger."
Significant manpower shortages are affecting the state's largest law enforcement agencies. The Department of Public Safety has 185 openings. Phoenix PD has 369 openings, and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has 375 openings, 251 of which are for detention officers.
Recruiters say they're trying to tap into today's young people, but they're up against two emerging challenges: integrity and drug use.
"If you have a desire to be in law enforcement, you have to be of sound mind, have great integrity value and not be involved in the use of illicit drugs," DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead said.
Students interested in law enforcement careers at Washington High School in the Glendale Union High School District are getting the guidance they need with a new program that gives them some of the same training actual police cadets go through.
"What we're doing is exposing them to the realities of the job and what it takes," Lauri Burgett, the program's creator and a retired Phoenix police officer with 30 years of experience said. "Some of it is about who you are, and what it means to really help people."
The recruiters are looking across the country -- particularly in the Southeast to build the diversity rolls. But Chief Williams says they've found just as much talent right here at home.
"We're not looking for perfect people -- we're looking for people who are looking to make a difference and are honest in their processes," Williams said.
Two law enforcement career fairs are scheduled:
Phoenix Police Career Fair
Oct. 20, 2017
8 a.m. - noon
Phoenix Convention Center (South Building)
Call 602-262-6925 for more information.
Criminal Justice and Intelligence Career Fair
Oct. 21, 2017
10 a.m - noon
NAU North Valley Campus - 15451 N 28th Drive, Phoenix