For years, the chiefs of the Honolulu Police Department used ohana, the Hawaiian word for family, to describe the department. Family is important in Hawaiian culture and ohana is the reason why officers joined and stayed with the force. Several years ago, the police family found itself in a staffing crisis. Like many other organizations, a large percentage of the officers were nearing retirement. Combined with other issues such as officers leaving for better paying jobs on the mainland and competition from other law enforcement that went on hiring sprees after 9/11, the force found itself significantly short of officers with no end in sight. Typically the department accepts only 3 percent of the applicants into its six-month training class, and lose some before the training in complete. The situation called for lots of applicants . . . fast. The departmentâ€™s leaders decided that a massive recruiting campaign built around their ohana family-style culture was in order; $60,000 was put into recruiting efforts that took many forms.
Ã¢â€“Â Department image and culture was promoted as close knit and service oriented rather than the usual rough and tumble image of police departments.
Ã¢â€“Â Womenâ€™s recruitment seminars were held.
Ã¢â€“Â Radio and TV ads were purchased.
Ã¢â€“Â Print ads were published in a magazine developed for the launch of the new inter island â€œSuper Ferry.â€
Ã¢â€“Â physically fit young people were targeted with recruiting efforts at beach volleyball tournaments, college, and even high school athletic events.
Ã¢â€“Â A police recruiting van was a visible presence at community events.
Ã¢â€“Â People on the mainland with ties to Hawaii, such as prior military service, were targeted.
Ã¢â€“Â A heavily promoted recruiting event in Portland, Oregon, drew people from as far away as New York and Florida.
Ã¢â€“Â Officers who had left the force for departments on the mainland were contacted.
Although the downsides of working and living in Hawaii, primarily related to the high cost of living, were also explained, the numbers of recruits gradually climbed. Seven years of recruiting effort finally paid off in July of 2008 when the force reached zero vacancies according to HPD Recruiter, Officer Julie Kusuda.36
1. How could the honolulu Police Department use other recruitment methods to accomplish their objectives?
2. How successful would their recruiting efforts have been without their branding campaign? Explain.
3. How would you handle the rejected applicants?
4. Take a look at the Honolulu Police Department Career Center at www.honolulupd.org. What suggestions can you make to improve their recruiting efforts?
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