Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib seeking uniformity for department’s hiring schedule

As the Lawrence Police Department seeks to hire new officers, department leaders say the timing of the application process is important.

Police Chief Tarik Khatib, who was promoted to his position in February, would like the department’s recruiting process and training academy to start each spring, to expand the pool of applicants because many college graduates are looking for jobs then.

“Ideally we’d like to make it an annual event that starts closer to the time of graduation so that people can have an understanding that we do hire at that time,” said Capt. Paul Fellers, of the community services division.

Department leaders also hope an annual recruiting process and academy can help curb the effects of attrition.

Training officer David Hogue said the department loses, on average, eight to nine officers a year, mostly to retirements. This causes staffing shortages on the streets because new hires participate in a 24-week training academy and also spend time paired with experienced officers in the field before working on their own.

Hogue said the department is seeking men and women who have interest in law enforcement, especially recent college graduates — not just ones with criminal justice degrees — or people who might be seeking a career change.

“We’re looking for people with all backgrounds,” Hogue said. “Traditionally, I think people have seen police work as a calling, and I definitely believe that’s true. If you’ve had interactions with people and the public, then that is huge.”

Earlier this year, Khatib went for one quick fix and hired six officers who had worked with other Kansas departments and put them through an abbreviated six-week training academy. However, he has said his preference is to take the full academy route because it offers a larger pool of applicants.

Experienced officers from other cities can still apply this round, but many of the department’s officers got their start in Lawrence.

“A lot of people have started here and have stayed here their entire career and have done a lot for the organization and the entire community,” Sgt. Bill Cory said.

Cory, who leads the training unit, said the number of new hires this time will depend on how many qualified applicants there are and what city leaders allot to the department.

The starting wage listed in the application at is $19.75 an hour. Hogue said the application deadline is June 10 and those with questions can call him at 785-830-7412.