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Atlanta police, accused of ‘poaching’ in St. Louis recruiting event, didn’t hire anyone

“We’re not poaching anyone,” Sgt. Clarence Tosh said, “because no one wants to do this job right now.”

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By Austin Huguelet
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — Atlanta police looking to import some new recruits from the St. Louis region found slim pickings here Saturday.

News that Atlanta police would be conducting interviews downtown this weekend had alarmed local leaders, whose departments have been struggling with severe staffing shortages.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones told KMOX (1120 AM) that she texted Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and said, “Hey, stop poaching our people.”

But with about a half-hour left in their second of three days here, Atlanta recruiters had only seven or eight people come see them at the Drury Plaza Hotel near the Arch. Of those, several were questionable candidates: They couldn’t pass a background check or didn’t have proper paperwork or had some other issue.

“It hasn’t been great,” said Officer Jesse Harold, one of the Atlanta department’s background investigators. He said Friday wasn’t much better.

The lull won’t stop Atlanta’s outreach, though. It’s been taking its recruitment efforts on the road for several years now, Atlanta police Sgt. Clarence Tosh said. The department has had good luck with events in places like New York and Florida.

And like St. Louis and other cities across the country, Atlanta is trying to shore up a staffing shortage at a time when good recruits are hard to find.

The labor market is one of the tightest in recent memory, and public approval of the profession has taken hits in recent years following high-profile misconduct in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, and Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, in January.

“We’re not poaching anyone,” Tosh said, “because no one wants to do this job right now.”


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