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In the Know: Diligence goes into hiring officers

The Alexandria Police Department is yet again in the hiring process. We as an agency are fortunate to retain the majority of our employees and the turnover rate is very low. Not all agencies can say the same and I believe that this speaks volumes for what a great place the Alexandria area is to live and work. We are currently building a list to hire two individuals and it is a decision that demands a great deal of consideration and diligence.

Like so many professions, there is a constant evolution to the job, including current trends and the desires and requirements of prospective employees. Police work is changing and if you accept that as a fact, then one must also accept that the type of individual that we are looking to hire is also changing. An individual with impeccable ethics, people skills and a desire to serve their community will always be required in police work. Our mission statement, at least in part, states that we will provide police service beyond expectation. With that in mind, those attributes will always need to be at the core of a prospective police officer.

Perhaps the biggest shift that I have seen during my time as Chief of Police would be the number of applicants for openings. It was not uncommon for there to be several dozen, maybe even more than 50 for a single opening. When you have 50 or more applications for a single position, it is very easy for us as a police agency to be very selective and pick the absolute cream of the crop. We as an organization will of course continue to maintain very high standards when it comes to hiring a police officer. This is a decision that carries a huge amount of responsibility and it is not feasible to hire somebody that doesn't meet the standards or wouldn't be a good fit within or agency.

Society is changing. While civil service jobs were once in high demand as individuals were seeking job security and benefits, we are seeing a shift. Many applicants today would prefer a more flexible schedule and additional vacation time as opposed to a guaranteed retirement package. The next generation is not necessarily seeking the same things that the previous generation was. This is not a negative statement by any stretch, but rather something that will need to be addressed in order to continue to hire and retain quality individuals as police officers. Those involved in hiring people for other fields are seeing the same trends and are adjusting how they do business. Making adjustments does not mean lowering standards or hiring less qualified or capable people.

It's too early to tell exactly how many applications that the Alexandria Police Department will receive for the two open spots that we have. Regardless of that number, I am confident that we will find two individuals that are as committed to their community as all the other members of our agency. This is truly a fantastic community in which to live and work and I look forward to welcoming two more individuals to our area and our agency.

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Rick Wyffels is the Alexandria police chief. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.