By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says he’s having more than a little trouble finding a few good men and women for the force.
At a hearing on the Police Department budget, Commissioner Ramsey said recruiting new officers remains a bigger challenge than ever, in fact just getting them to show up is a challenge.
“We have a large percentage of people, 50-percent, sometimes more, that don’t show for orientation, even though they’ve been invited. You can’t get into the process if you don’t show for the orientation.”
Ramsey said this recruiting difficulty is particularly true of African American males, whose representation on the force has dropped from 16-percent to about 9-percent.
All of this, he told council members, has prompted the Department to re-examine their approach to recruiting.
“We’re looking at every single phase, to see where we’re losing people and whether or not it’s a problem of standards being too tight, that would unnecessarily eliminate people.”
Case in point was the minimum age to apply for the Police Academy.
Ramsey said,”We had (earlier) raised the age to 21. We (have since) lowered it back down to 19. The reason being, that many people couldn’t wait to get jobs. By the time they turned 21, they already had other employment.”
But Ramsey cautioned that lowering application standards can only go so far.
“Our has to goal has to be people into the department, but people of quality into the department.”
The Commissioner speculated that one possible cause of the drop in interest in law enforcement is that many graduates find jobs in technology fields more appealing.
This, he said, has prompted them to highlight particular aspects of policing like forensics that have technology components.