Changing Times; Changing Strategies: One Agency’s Experience with Innovative Recruitment

For a number of years, the Winston-Salem Police Department, a North Carolina law enforcement agency of 560 sworn officers, easily filled its police academy with 30–40 recruits from diverse backgrounds. Recruiters spent time going through thousands of applications to select the best and brightest from a large pool of talent. The department was able to run academies at least once a year, sometimes even twice a year. Then, in 2014, Winston-Salem found itself facing the same troubles as other police agencies worldwide. Increased media scrutiny of police tactics, controversial officer-involved shootings, and the tragic line-of-duty deaths of officers in Dallas, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and other places caused Winston-Salem’s once rich and flourishing applicant pool to diminish significantly.