Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Want to be a police officer? Application deadline is Wednesday; new chief says diversity is a priority for department

“You have to really want to do this. You can’t just look at it as a job.”

A line of graduating recruits stand before family members, friends and other officers during a graduation ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hotel.

A line of graduating recruits stand before family members, friends and other officers during a graduation ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hotel.

November 13, 2017

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With the current class of police recruits graduated from the academy on Friday, the Lawrence Police Department is about to start picking next year’s class.

Wednesday is the application deadline to become a Lawrence police officer next year.

New Lawrence police chief Gregory Burns Jr. said recruitment — particularly recruiting diverse candidates — is among his priorities for the department.

He said diversity in color, gender, age and general life experience is crucial to being a “complete” police agency.

“The police department should be a reflection of its community,” he said. “But on the flip side, not everybody wants to be the police anymore.”

“You have to really want to do this. You can’t just look at it as a job. It has to be a calling.”

As of Friday, the department had received about 160 applications, Sgt. Amy Rhoads said. Although that’s generally lower than years past, it is notably higher than last year, when the department received 135 applicants.

The exact number of spots that need to be filled will be finalized later, but it will be just a sliver of the overall number of applicants.

The Lawrence Police Department is authorized for 155 sworn officers and currently has 149, though with retirements and attrition in the coming year that number could shrink, Rhoads said. This year’s graduating class from the Lawrence Police Department’s in-house academy numbers 10 law enforcement officers: eight with the Lawrence Police Department and two with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

To be considered, applicants must be 21 years old by March 5, 2018, have a high school diploma or GED and be U.S. citizens. Rhoads said college degrees are preferred, and “experience in meeting and dealing with the public is a plus.”

The process includes a written exam, physical agility test, oral interview board and — for finalists — extensive background checks and lie-detector tests.

For those chosen, the academy begins March 5. More information about the application process is online at joinlawrencepd.org.

In addition to other recruiting efforts, the Lawrence Police Department is offering a $1,500 sign-on bonus for officers with a certain skill: fluency in Spanish.

Rhoads said the department has offered bonuses to Spanish-speakers for the past three recruitment cycles, as an extra way to attract officers.

Decades ago, when he first became a police officer in Louisville, Ky., Burns said there were about 3,000 applicants for 20 jobs.

Back then, Burns said, a lot of those people just needed a job, saw the police department was hiring, and applied.

“I don’t really envision people doing that anymore,” Burns said. “You’ve got to want to help people, you’ve got to care about people, you’ve got to want to enhance your community.”

Law enforcement is a tough job, and departments all over the country are competing for the same people, he said.

“There’s inherent risks in being the police that just come with the nature of the job,” Burns said. “You have to come in Day 1 being prepared to accept those risks, but also wanting to accept the rewards.”

Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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Comments

Bob Summers 1 month ago

"Diversity"

Wow. What a qualification. Is it any wonder why there are shootouts in Larryville?

Is it any wonder why BLM is against police brutality.

Is it any wonder why police have been attacked for their incompetence?

Wow

Alex Landazuri 1 month ago

while i dont usually feed the trolls Bob, reading comprehension helps and it appears you are lacking in that. when he referred to diversity he was talking about the department as a whole and not the officer. it might help if you let the adults do the talking and heavy lifting from here on out.....

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 month ago

Why is there no mention of the new deputy sheriffs at the end of the line? I find that job even more challenging, and am thankful for the deputies that protect us out in the county. I did the job for 30 years in a nearby Sheriff's Office.I worked in the county jail, for 16 months, before being transferred. That was a very interesting experience. I now have a much greater appreciation for corrections officers. I do agree with Chief Burns, law enforcement is a calling not just a job.

Chad Lawhorn 1 month ago

The sheriff's deputies were mentioned in the article: "This year’s graduating class from the Lawrence Police Department’s in-house academy numbers 10 law enforcement officers: eight with the Lawrence Police Department and two with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office." Thanks.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 1 month ago

Sorry I missed it, must have been reading too fast.

Francis Hunt 1 month ago

"...diversity is among his priorities." I hope quality and qualified are amongst the priorities.

"He said diversity in color, gender, age and general life experience is crucial to being a “complete” police agency." I don't care about color, gender or age as long as they have integrity, character, empathy and common sense. To me that is "crucial."

Alex Landazuri 1 month ago

agreed, but for some in this town it doesnt matter how qualified the person is or how well they do their job. if the person is the wrong race, creed or color then they are wrong. its something that the department unfortunately has to pander to.

Jennifer Harrison 1 month ago

If you hire someone based on race, gender, or age...Is that not being discriminatory and open the department up to litigation? What happened to hiring the most qualified candidate regardless of the protected class? I don’t want a old man, African American, female, or white male showing up to help me at a time in need just because he/she fits the “mold” of what a department should look like.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 month ago

If you have a tow men, one white and one black, who are equally qualified, which would you choose, Jennifer?

David Holroyd 1 month ago

Really now Jennifer,,,you don't want an old man showing up? I suppose it is okay for an "old man" pizza delivery person to show up.

I want to see Chief Burns be the first chief in Lawrence to hire a Transgender!

Terry Sexton 1 month ago

How do you he hasn't done so already?

Jennifer Harrison 1 month ago

Dorothy, you hire both because it’s obvious the police department will be short handed due to the impending retirements. The point is no one should be given any preference based on race, age, gender, or their faith.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 month ago

Guess what. In real life there are still a lot of people who would only hire the white guy. Maybe you would like to believe that isn't true, but it is. I've seen it in my lifetime. I used to work for a company who didn't hire Black men, because the one time they did, the guy couldn't even read a tape measure, so in their minds, no Black man could. I had a Black friend who could rebuild motorcycles and do all kinds of carpentry work, but they didn't hire him. Of course, he is soon retiring from the company who gave him a job and is still in the US, unlike the company I used to work for. And don't get me started about the glass ceiling for women. Don't tell me it doesn't happen still. I too would like them to hire competent people, but I want everyone to get a fair shake.

Ahmed Mamdouh 1 month ago

With the current class of police recruits graduated from the academy on Friday, the Lawrence Police Department is about to start picking next year’s class.

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