The Fort Wayne Police Department will have a full class of new recruits, thanks to a new app and a new recruiting team of 12 local officers.
Using the Interview Now app, the department has grown from under 500 applicants two years ago to 600, Chief Steve Reed said in an interview on Friday.
The effort began when a few officers came to the chief with the idea of ââan internal recruiting team last year. An easy way to show your interest is to send a JOINFWPD SMS to 260 233 9850.
By the end of January, a full class of 40 recruits will be seated, although a few are expected to drop out due to the grueling aspect of the 22-plus-week training at the Public Safety Academy, Reed said.
Another 15 to 20 officers currently stationed in other departments are awaiting departmental approval to join the FWPD, Reed said. These agents are called lateral transfers.
The department is currently budgeted for 485 agents, up from 480 previously approved by the city. Reed hopes to reach 500 in the future.
When someone shows interest in coming to the service, Agent Doug Weaver responds first. The claimant is then linked to one of the 12 officers who mentor that person through the process, Reed said. The hiring process typically takes six months, according to the department’s flyer.
The agents come mainly from local and regional agencies, but some come from far away. In the final lateral training class, the recruits transferred from Sacramento and New York.
An officer from Seattle recently expressed interest in a transfer to the FWPD. The selling points are the community and its burgeoning development, the FWPD and its facilities, a favorable housing market and rising wages, said Reed.
The starting salary for officers this year is over $ 66,000 per year and next year will increase to $ 69,450 due to salary increases approved by Mayor Tom Henry and City Council.
Starting this year, agents will see a 5% increase for the next three years. Reed expects the department to be in the top 20 for state salaries, if not the top 10, by the end of year three, he said.
Another selling point is the specialized units which include the Emergency Services team, often referred to as SWAT, Explosive Ordnance Device (bomb squad), Vice & Narcotics, Gang & Violent Crimes, Street Crimes, K-9, Otage Negotiations and the Air Support. Unit (drones.)
Requirements to become a police officer include a high school diploma and being 21 years old. The FWPD recruiting team recruits students, especially criminal law students and military veterans, Weaver said.
Good officers will also have good people skills and be able to talk to citizens, Weaver said.