McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

March 22, 2014

‘More than a job ... a career’

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The black brochure features an Enid Police Department badge and the slogan, “More than a job ... a career.”

The pamphlets are one of many ways Enid Police Department is attempting to recruit much-needed officers. The department is re-vamping its recruiting efforts to attract suitable candidates.

Police departments across the region, where the energy industry is thriving, are having trouble hiring qualified candidates and keeping current officers. Enid is no exception.

“It’s not just us,” said Chief Brian O’Rourke. “All agencies are having this problem.”

The chief said the department has been working the past several years to attract candidates. Renovation to the station, the building of a gym, updating graphic packages on its patrol vehicles and new model SUV patrol vehicles were all steps to recruit and     retain officers.

Last year, starting pay was increased to $35,000 a year to make the department more competitive in the job market.

“We’re looking for people who really, really want to be police officers,” O’Rourke said. “We’d like to have people from Enid reinvest in their community and serve the community.

“We also work with people from out of town, out of state, to where we’ll help them through the application process to make it more convenient when they have to travel.”

The chief said the department’s hiring process is intended to produce the best candidates.

“The hiring process is not an easy one,” he said. “Between the physical agility, background checks and polygraph and everything else that needs to be done, we just have very few who are able to complete that process to the end.”

“We’ve had discussions among the administration,” Capt. Jack Morris said. “We wanted to find something we could do differently, as far as our recruitment.”

Morris said the department came up with a concept to be more “face-to-face.”

That face is Training Officer Darrin Morris.

“Darrin was our best choice as our training officer,” the captain said. “He does a great job with our citizens police academy.”

Jack Morris said the department is seeking avenues of recruitment that involve more human interaction and that highlight the benefits the department can offer. He said Darrin Morris was chosen to interact with the public because he loves his job.

“I am excited and looking forward to the opportunity to aggressively recruit new officers,” Darrin Morris said. “The Enid Police Department has come a long way in the last few years to become competitive with other agencies.”

Darrin joined the department in 1990. He was named training officer in 2010.

O’Rourke and Jack Morris said the department is going to begin working with local colleges with criminal justice programs. Internships also will be offered in the future to potential police officers.

“We want to make contact with people who have heard of Enid but might not know the ins and outs of the Enid Police Department,” Jack Morris said. “We are trying to do recruitment that involves much more interaction. We’re trying to find other avenues, job fairs, that sort of thing.”

He said he worked with the graphic design department at Autry Technology Center and Cheryl Cooksey’s students to design the new brochure. The last brochure was designed in the early 2000s.

Previously, the department had some of Cooksey’s students design the graphics package for patrol vehicles. Her students also help with items used at job fairs.

“A lot of things were accomplished with the help of her class. A lot of credit goes to them,” Jack Morris said. “She’s always helped and she’s always eager.”

O’Rourke said the department also is filming a new recruiting video.

“We’re still putting the finishing touches on the new video,” he said. “We just want to get the word out for people, if they want to get into law enforcement, this is a really great place to work and a great town to work in.

“We certainly have a lot to offer people that want to be a police officer in a great community.”