Almost a year into Chaska Police Chief Ryan Seibert’s role, the Chaska Police Department is looking into new recruitment and outreach efforts.
The department has recently seen half the amount of applicants as usual, though still “adequate,” Seibert said at a Feb. 22 Chaska City Council meeting. Fifty-nine candidates are currently being evaluated.
The competition is “fierce” among candidates, he said. Qualified officers might have a handful of other departments also looking to hire them, so recruitment strategies may need to shift to get more qualified officers in Chaska.
“I think our police department has a very robust presence in a lot of ways,” Seibert said, but noted there are opportunities to improve. “(We’re) trying to develop a reputation as an agency that is progressive.”
This past year, Seibert said he revisited how officers are evaluated and offered voluntary career development. To make it less time-consuming to hire officers, the team has also expedited the pre-employment process.
“We put together a background team which I think leads to greater efficiency and much greater turnaround time,” Seibert said. “If we are in a race with another department, (they’ll) get our offer first and choose us.”
That could mean considering what other departments do, like giving extra incentive to officers with second language skills.
Other nearby departments have changed tattoo or past drug use policies to attract more candidates, but Chaska’s has remained the same, he said.
CASTING A BETTER NET
City Administrator Matt Podhradsky said the department and city is attempting to make sure candidates reflect the community, but they “don’t have all the answers now.”
Councilor Jon Grau said he’s always a fan of asking: What can we do differently?
But he has other questions, too.
“How do we recruit to even get people into (Community Service Officer and Police Explorer programs)?” he said. “And what is our diversity and inclusion pieces for that matter? Because in the end, if we’re saying, ‘Well, we’re hiring the best candidates,’ and this is what we had to select from, that might look one way, but it might be an issue down in those feeder groups.”
Grau said the department’s goal should be ensuring the candidate pool is as representative of Chaska as it can be.
“To me, if we get the skill sets right and it’s reflective of what we think is most important for us to meet our objectives for serving that, we are gonna get the best pool,” Podhradsky said.
Five of the department’s officers started out as CSOs (about 50% of CSOs and Police Explorers end up in other law enforcement roles, according to Podhradsky). That’s why relating to those organizations first may be key.
“We’re getting into a situation where we need to explore that partnership and a (have) little bit better communication or dialogue with those program coordinators or instructors,” Seibert said. “We just don’t have that relationship with instructors.”
The department might start by getting out into the community and promoting the Chaska Police Department. That could include local schools and job fairs or changing the department brochure. The department would likely start in the metro area.
Chaska Mayor Mark Windschitl said he’s happy to hear the department is looking at other ways to recruit but his first goal is to have “the best” candidate.
“No matter what color they are, who they are — it doesn’t matter. It’s that we look at who that best candidate is and that’s who we give that job offer to,” Windschitl said. “Ultimately, we’ve been really fortunate. I think our last hire has been really good and I hope that just continues as we move forward.”