Monroe Police Dept. Building New Recruiting Brand Following Controversy

MONROE (KTVE/KARD) -- An internal survey released in May revealing a majority of low morale in the department with 80% of officers saying they'd take another job if they could.

A police union vote of no confidence in Police Chief Quentin Holmes.

A mayoral investigation into miconduct in the department.

All of this controversy is at the front of police recruiters' minds when talking to future officers.

"That's the first thing I ask," said recruiter Reggie Brown. "'Is what has been going on recently, has it affected your opinion of this agency? Has it deterred you or has it made you a little more skeptical?'"

What may be surpriing is Brown said he's actually received some positive feedback.

"We've had three officers from another agency that have applied with us," he said. "One thing they mentioned is: 'Hey, every agency has problems. Every job has its problems.'"

Now, recruiters said the police department is seeking a new brand, opening up to criminal justice graduates from local colleges like Louisiana Delta Community College, ULM, Career Technical College and Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.

"Brand our agency. That's what we are doing as of this point," Brown said. "We have a website that's about to be released and that is going to be aimed at attracting qualified applicants, more particularly college students."

Monroe Police recruiters said there is a challenge finding qualified people to fill the department. 

They said they have 100 applicants right now and between 40-50 coming to an applicants day next week, but recruiters said usually, out of that number, only 10% will end up being hired.

"With our rigorous background checks, having to pass a demanding physical and things of that nature, it really kind of roots out a lot of our applicants," Brown explained.

Recruiters said the money's a hard sell as well with annual salaries starting between $28,000 and $34,000.

Brown said he works to sell public service over paychecks.

"When you're competing with companies like IBM, CenturyLink, Microsoft and things of that nature, pay-wise, you'll never be able to compete with them," he said. "Anyone who wants to make a difference in this community, that's one of the first things I try to sell to them."

The Monroe Police Department will host a Police Applicants Day on August 27th at ULM.

Brown said no matter what, they'll continue to hire for quality over quantity just to fill vacancies.

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