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How the Metropolitan Police Department uses technology and process restructuring to reduce hiring inefficiencies

“When we looked at restructuring the recruiting process from 18 months to the three-month process we have today, it really was a data-driven approach.”

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Law enforcement recruiting is an issue we have been scrambling to address across the country. Our guest today has some ideas that have been put into action with some great initial results.

In this episode of the Policing Matters podcast, sponsored by Staccato, host Jim Dudley speaks with Marvin “Ben” Haiman, who serves as the Chief of Staff for the Metropolitan Police Department, about how the agency is using data-driven initiatives to improve recruiting. Mr. Haiman oversees the daily operations of the Executive Office of the Chief of Police and is responsible for broad agency management and implementing strategic agency objectives.

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Top quotes from this episode

As anyone who does police recruiting knows, you can’t find people that quickly, it takes time, it take diligence, and you don’t just want to open the floodgates as you will pay the consequences down the road.”

I leverage data in all our different processes. Initially when we looked at restructuring the recruitment process from an 18-month window to the shorter three-month process we have today, it was a data-driven approach. We clearly were able to see some of the process gaps. We found over 40 distinct process steps an applicant would have to get to for them to be able to be successfully processed, so we restructured that so there were multiple things that could be happened at the same time and multiple people could advance the case at any state in the process really helped move us forward.”

We’ve been thoughtful and diligent in the space where changes should occur. So for example, in the space of drug use. Marijuana, a lot has changed in that space. In D.C., it’s decriminalized and so in that space, we look at prior usage, that you can’t use within 90 days of application.”

Recruitment resources from the Metropolitan Police Department

about our guest

Marvin Haiman.JPG

Marvin Haiman

Mr. Marvin Haiman serves as the Chief of Staff for the Metropolitan Police Department. In this capacity, Mr. Haiman oversees the daily operations of the Executive Office of the Chief of Police and is responsible for broad agency management and implementing strategic agency objectives. Mr. Haiman is responsible for several organizational units to include the Office of Communications, Office of General Counsel, and the Professional Development Bureau. Mr. Haiman served as the Executive Director of the Professional Development Bureau between 2017-2021, leading the Recruiting Division, Metropolitan Police Academy Division, Human Resource Management Division, Disciplinary Review Division, Testing and Assessment Division, Equal Employment Opportunity Division, Office of Communications, and the Strategic Engagement Office (Volunteer Services).

Prior to being named Executive Director, between 2015-2017, Mr. Haiman served in a variety of capacities, including developing the agency’s Office of Volunteer Coordination, serving as Chief of Staff for the Technical Services Division tasked with a broad range of IT operations, and Chief of Staff for the Strategic Services Bureau supporting and leading the administration of police recruitment, training, policy, and volunteer service matters for the Department.

Prior to returning to the Metropolitan Police Department, Mr. Haiman served as Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council for the United States Department of Homeland Security, establishing several key task forces for the Secretary. Prior to his Federal service, Mr. Haiman served as the Deputy Director of the Recruiting Division and Volunteer Services Coordinator for the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington DC among various other positions. As Deputy Director of Recruiting, Mr. Haiman was responsible for restructuring the sworn hiring process, decreasing the amount of time it took to process candidates while increasing the quality of those officers hired.

Haiman graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Master’s Degree in Management through the Police Executive Leadership Program and has his undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Iowa and received designation as a Certified Public Management Program through George Washington University, as well as certification in Strategic Project Management. Mr. Haiman is also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Executive Leadership Program. Mr. Haiman received recognition from the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2020 as a 40 under 40 recipient and the prestigious Gary P. Hayes Award by the Police Executive Research Forum. Mr. Haiman also graduated from the Metropolitan Police Academy and served as a reserve police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department. Mr. Haiman resides with his family in Washington, DC.

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Jim Dudley: Welcome back to Policing Matters on I’m your host, Jim Dudley. Hopefully, you’re listening to us and maybe you’re watching us on the Police1 YouTube channel and I encourage you to check it out if you’re not. All right. So recruiting for law enforcement is an issue that we’ve been scrambling to address across the country for some time now. Our guest today has some ideas that have been put into action with some great initial results. Mr. Marvin “Ben” Haiman serves as the Chief of Staff for the Metropolitan Police Department. And in his capacity, Mr. Haiman oversees daily operations of the Executive Office of the Chief of Police, and is responsible for broad agency management and implementing strategic agency objectives. Welcome to Policing Matters, Marvin “Ben” Haiman. I’ll call you Ben from here on out. Welcome.

Ben Haiman: Thank you, Jim. It’s wonderful to be here with you today.

Jim Dudley: Great. So reading some of your background and what you’re doing, can you tell us how long have you been working on the current recruiting strategies for the Metropolitan PD?

Ben Haiman: Absolutely. Jim, I’ve been with Metropolitan Police Department for almost 15 years. And throughout all of my career with the department, I’ve had various touchpoints with our recruiting process. Early on when I was hired for the agency, I actually designed a digital background system to help the agency process candidates that were coming in. That’s no longer being used. We’ve leveraged more modern technology. But from there I actually led the recruiting division as the civilian program manager, helping to restructure and to get the process to be a little bit more efficient with our agency. Going from about 18 months down to about three months. So some pretty dramatic increases. As I moved throughout my career, I was responsible for oversight for the recruiting division and now recruiting division is one of the divisions that falls under my purview as Chief of Staff. So I’ve had a lot of different touchpoints. Recruiting is something that I interact with daily for our agency. It’s something that’s a high priority and a high-pressure area. And so something that’s very near and dear to my heart to make sure we get right.

Jim Dudley: Yeah, so sometimes policy is about researching what you have been doing and today, in today’s recruiting situation, you’ve got to be able to talk to the boots on the ground, to the actual recruiters as well. I want to get to those, but many saw the intersection of the pandemic coupled with the George Floyd incident as being the most impactful on recruiting. How did you see that affecting the Metropolitan Police?

Ben Haiman: Let me put this in a bit broader context and then I’ll get into the specifics of your question. So the Metropolitan Police Department for many years hired between 250 and 300 new recruits and that was a pretty steady churn. MPD, one of the largest police departments in the country in the mid-2010s, around 2014, we were about 4,000 officers, and that number had kind of ebbed and flowed slightly, but that was really the target and goal for our city of uniformed personnel. What we knew is in 1990 and 1991, our agency had a very dramatic hiring bubble and so flash forward those individuals would become eligible for retirement. In fact, many would pursue their retirement. So we had a retirement bubble both in the 2016, 2017 era, but also now again today. That coupled with kind of the current climate.

So going into 2020, the job market was good. People had a lot of different career options in D.C. In the immediate D.C. region, there are over 35 agencies that are hiring. So it’s a very competitive market. Many are federal agencies, so that has a different draw and pull. Some are local jurisdictions and they have different kinds of packages that they offer. Again, competitive in that space. Coming into 2020, we were coupled with the global pandemic, which had a profound impact on our ability to hire both from a process standpoint and also from a people standpoint. Policing, being an in-person job Monday, well not Monday through Friday, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. You couldn’t really telework through that option. Some of those challenges really started to manifest in recruiting with the start of the pandemic.

Then enter May 2020 with the murder of George Floyd, the very strong anti-police sentiment that was experienced in Washington, D.C., coupled with a lot of angst around policing across this country. That already on top of the pandemic, on top of the previously very strong job market, led our agency to a period where we didn’t hire for about a year. So if you’re continuing to lose those people that I’m talking about in a steady stream, not bringing individuals in, we saw a pretty dramatic impact on our force size. Today we’re just over 3,330, so that is a pretty dramatic decrease in the number of officers that we have on our force and we’re working, our mayor is incredibly supportive of kind of rebuilding the strength of the Metropolitan Police Department. We’re actively trying to fill our ranks, but as anyone who does police recruiting knows, you can’t find people that quickly. It takes time, it takes diligence, and you don’t want to just simply open the floodgates because you’ll pay the consequences down the road.

So we saw a dramatic increase, but it wasn’t just the murder of George Floyd, it was all the factors that came in that. Our agency had a further piece and so on January 6, 2021, with the insurrection that happened at the United States Capitol, that also had a pretty dramatic impact on our agency. Many of our officers, we had some pretty significant resignations and retirements coming out of that. So all these factors were really in kind of one bubble.

Jim Dudley: And in researching a problem of any kind in an enforcement operation, we often use evidence-based policing, look at the data to help us come to a good plan. And in regards to recruitment, I’m wondering what kind of data did you look at? How did that figure into your overall recruiting policy?

Ben Haiman: Yeah, great question. So anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit of a data wonk at heart. My background is in mathematics, so I leverage kind of data in all of our different processes. In fact, last night I was sitting there just studying their data and looking for trends and kind of patterns that would be helpful in figuring out process gaps. So initially when we looked at restructuring the recruiting process from that longer 18-month window down to the much shorter average of a three-month process that we have today, it really was a data-driven approach. So we started by laying out all the different process components, both the number of people that flowed through the process, but also the average amount of time that it took for them to hit the different milestones.

And that was very useful for us to do because we were clearly able to see some of the process gaps. I describe it as the case jacket would get prepared and then get put on the sergeant’s desk. But the sergeant was on leave for two weeks and then when the sergeant came back, they had training for a week and now three weeks for that case jacket before I moved to the next. But what we found is there were over 40 distinct process steps that an applicant would have to get to for them to be able to be successfully processed. Restructuring that so that there were multiple different things that could happen at the same time and multiple different people that could advance the case at any stage in the process, really helped move us forward.

From a data-on-whole perspective, we get a lot of applicants. We get a lot of interest in the agency, we get a lot of people that we’re processing through various steps. And so being able to leverage the data that we have available to look for any sort of adverse impact for any groups that might not fare equivalently through any part of the process has allowed us to be more equitable and to revise some of our process practices based on the trends that we’re observing. Certainly, our standards have been informed. So one of the things, I have a research team that works on looking at standards and so one of the projects that they have underway is looking at our recruiting data and our internal affairs data and seeing if there are any causal factors that prove to be true.

For example, in policing, most agencies have a drug standard, but if you choose to relax that standard, are you paying any sort of consequences in internal affairs cases? And so being able to see if there are any predictive background factors that would be more or less linked to an applicant’s success is one way we look at data. Then looking at training data and so forth, we’ve been able to do some interesting analysis in that space.

Jim Dudley: You hit on two really important issues that I want to follow up on. And one is the length of the process. I think that’s one of the biggest detractors of recruiting and candidates can’t afford to wait four to nine months in the process while they’re entertaining other job offers or they seek to just stay at their own current job.

In my agency, I sat through as the Deputy Chief of Admin, sitting around the table with all the people that you just described, including our physician and our polygrapher and our site guy, and the background investigator. And the background investigator sits at the table with, depending on the background of the individual, a file that’s an inch thick to four inches thick. And then they all propose whether or not we accept this candidate. And I’m thinking, “We have background investigators still carrying around files with paper files and there’s got to be a better way to speed up the process.” What’d you do to speed up the process? We talk about the disjointed, they take the written, then they make an appointment for an oral board, and then they come back and they do a physical, it’s just too many steps. What’d you do?

Ben Haiman: We’ve been entirely digital since 2015. There are no paper files of any kind for our pre-employment hires, but I distinctly remember those big files sitting on my desk just stacking up. At the end of the day, I’d review all the disqualified, and in the morning I’d review all the hired or recommended hired cases and get paper cuts as I’m flipping through the pages on those jackets. Fortunately, now we’re just scrolling through the computer, so that makes it a lot easier. But there were a few things, one, technology. Technology and leveraging and investing in technology. Our agency was an early adapter, so I mentioned that we built a homegrown solution that actually ICP had recognized as an innovation in technology back in 2010. But then in 2015, we formally procured a system called eSOPH by Miller Mendel, which has been very, very helpful and we remain using that system and it replaced our home-built system. So technology was a piece of it.

Process restructuring was another component. And so really looking at where we were inefficient, that activity that I mentioned before of laying out the amount of time it took and all the different steps and who had to be involved. What we saw is a lot of time, 16 weeks in fact, was really that initial from the time the person came in from the first time to the time they got their fingerprints. And so we looked at all the activities that happened, the written exam, the physical ability test, an interview, and a screening, and we consolidated that to something we call a Prospect Day. And it’s manpower intensive. We have our whole recruiting staff that comes together. We bring in some people from other areas but in that one day when a candidate says, “I’m interested,” they come in, they do their physical ability tests, they do the written test, they get a screening with an investigator, they get their fingerprints and photographs.

And presuming they’re successful throughout all those different steps in the process, they have a very strong likelihood if they didn’t lie to us and if they don’t have any undisclosed medical conditions or medical conditions that were disclosed but need to have a doctor’s assessment. And assuming that their background is as they purport, they have a very strong likelihood of moving through the process. So Prospect Day was really instrumental in speeding up that process for us. What we know is it’s competitive. So if we can get an offer out, and I’ve seen candidates as few as six weeks from the time they said they’re interested till the time they’re sitting in our academy. And that includes all those process steps. That tends to be your 21-year-old applicant who’s never worked anywhere, and who lives in your mother’s basement. They’re going to be able to move through a little quicker than your 40-year-old applicant who’s worked at a bunch of different places, has prior divorce and kind of different situations that have to be mitigated. But on average we’re still looking at three months. That’s our competitive advantage in this space.

And I’m continually pushing my team. In fact, I was pushing this morning in this space, not to cut corners, but to look for inefficiencies and remove those from the process. And again, it might be so we look now at having some contract help just on the reference checks, ‘cause we know reference checks take a lot of time. So while the investigator’s doing some components, we can have other people working on reference checks. So it’s really a collaborative effort on a case file changing from 10 years ago where one investigator would have one candidate and they’d work it from start to finish. Now we have multiple people that are really working on it which really does help make it move faster.

Jim Dudley: That’s great to hear. And then you also mentioned standards. Changing standards, lowering standards. We’ve had some great experts on the show. Traci Tauferner from Wisconsin is an athletic trainer, who is also a consultant who goes around the country looking at their current standards and looks to help them not change or lower the standards, but to make them more relevant to the real job. What’s the standard policy at MPD? What have you changed? Drugs are a big issue. I mean, 23 states have some version of legalized marijuana. So you have today’s recruit who may have lived the last 10 or 15 years of their life in a state where marijuana is legal by state standard, but of course, there’s the federal standard and you’re right there in Washington, D.C., how’d you deal with that?

Ben Haiman: Yeah, that certainly. And then I go to a lot of recruiting conferences and speak with folks all around the country and drug standards are always the topic du jour, no matter where you go. So MPD has an interesting history in this space. We’ve learned a lot from the history of our agency. So 1990 and 1991, we hired over 1,200 officers between those two years. Standards at that point largely dropped and that was very problematic for our agency for many years. We ended up entering into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Justice, not a formal consent decree, but very close based on some of the personnel practices that were happening. Some of the issues frankly, with how our people were conducting themselves as law enforcement officers. Even in the immediate years following 1990 and 1991, we learned a lot about having officers that were engaged in criminal conduct.

So as we got into this new retiring bubble and new recruiting push, we were very mindful not to lower standards. So we still have our college education requirement that’s been put in place, our agency has not changed that. But we’ve been thoughtful and diligent in the space where changes should occur. So for example, in the space of drug use. Marijuana, a lot has changed in that space. In D.C., it’s decriminalized and so in that space, we look at prior usage, that you can’t use within 90 days of application. But then also we’re a drug-free workplace, so we’re ensuring that people understand that coming in. Again, we’ve taken a very pragmatic approach to things like Adderall usage. We saw a lot of college kids taking Adderall to try to study, they were performers in college, and they otherwise didn’t have drug usage. So we looked at a more reasonable standard there.

We’ve maintained all of our other drug standards, which we speak very publicly with candidates about. A lot of agencies hide their drug standards. We’re very transparent. Any other illegal substance including illegal prescription drugs within five years is an automatic disqualifier. We put that out front to candidates because they’re either going to do one or two things. One, they’re going to respect the position of the agency and wait that amount of time to apply or to move forward or they’re going to attempt to lie and we’ll catch that through some form or fashion. But in some states, and I’ve worked with a couple, they have a number of usage times. If you puff marijuana this number of times and those standards. If you’re keeping a journal of how many times you’ve used marijuana, there’s probably a different issue at play. So we look at just that kind of time, but then totality.

So if a candidate was going into the military and then used drugs when they got out of the military, that’s going to cause us some questions. Using drugs, went into the military, had a good military career, now working, but no substance use, we’re going to be more willing to give that candidate a chance. Our whole philosophy is around the whole person. So there are a few things that are automatic disqualifiers, but outside of that, we try to put derogatory information in perspective with the totality of the candidate.

Again, when we look at standard changes, I think there’s been a lot we’ve done to try to be more inclusive. And so by the time this podcast airs or shortly thereafter, we’ll be announcing formally that we’re opening up not just to US citizens, but also legal permanent residents. And so that expands the population of individuals that would be eligible in our cadet program, which is essentially a 17 to 24-year-old job training program where we pay for college education, we pay people a working salary, we’ve expanded the population of who’s eligible for that program. So we’ve looked at ways that we can really approach being more inclusive with our hiring practice, expanding to populations that weren’t previously reached or touched by the police department as opposed to trying to drop any standards that we had.

Jim Dudley: One of the things you mentioned about allowing legal permanent residents, just not U.S. citizens, as part of applicants that are now permitted to apply for D.C. Metro, and it’s kind of a polarizing topic. I’ve seen articles and read about the response saying, “OK, great, let’s just let them all in.” And it’s not that it’s not someone entering illegally, it’s not someone who’s been living here undocumented, but it’s about people in the process, people who have their Green Card or they’re in the process of becoming citizens. Is that what you’re planning to do?

Ben Haiman: Yeah. In fact, the definition of a legal permanent resident, the only way you meet that criterion is by having a Green Card and the right to work and on a path to full citizenship in the country. Individuals in that category have and can serve in the US Military and have for many years. So it’s an eligible population that we would be remiss to not include in our department. More than that, they’re members of our community. Our department is a very diverse agency, reflective of the community we serve. Over 65% of our officers come from minority backgrounds. We speak over 35 languages as an agency. About 24% of our agency is women as we kind of build on the path of 30 by 30 in that space.

But really I’ve challenged our recruiting team, and again, going back to the question on data, when we look at different populations and communities that are reflective in D.C., I challenged them to be as inclusive as possible and to really find that diverse representation on our agency. And I realize 18,000 law enforcement agencies, I work with cities all across the country. There are different philosophies and mentalities that are driven by local communities and frankly, for Washington, D.C., that level of diversity and inclusion is reflective of our city’s desires. And I think that’s very important that the police department mirrors the expectation of that community.

Jim Dudley: For sure. I seem to recall and tell me if I’m wrong, that Washington, D.C. PD required residency. Is that still the case?

Ben Haiman: Long, long, long time ago. So certainly not in the last 20 years. I might be dating you a little bit here on this one, but no, we don’t require any sort of residency, with very limited exceptions, but not for our uniformed officers. Our uniformed officers can reside wherever they wish, as long as they can get to work and make it to roll call on time. Certainly, there are a lot of benefits to living in the district, and we certainly encourage our officers. We have, right now, we have an incentive program for officers that choose to live in the district when they start their career an additional $6,000 of parental assistance. We also have home buyer programs that really are quite generous and helpful, and I know a good number of our officers who’ve purchased a home in the district with the assistance of the various programs that are available to make DC home. But Washington, D.C., is an incredibly expensive place to live, and some of our officers choose to live elsewhere, and that’s perfectly fine as long as they can make it to roll call on time in D.C. traffic.

Jim Dudley: Wow. I guess I stepped into a time warp with that question. Deputy Chief Brian Jordan of the Metro PD, at the time, we were FBI Academy classmates and he gave us a tour of the department. I’m sure that was one of the things he mentioned.

Ben Haiman: Absolutely.

Jim Dudley: What was the feedback from your line staff, Ben? We did a Police1 poll a year or two ago that said to all the respondents, “Would you recommend joining your police agency or any police department?” And only 7%, a dismal number, 7% of the respondents said that they would recommend a job. What are you telling your line people or what are you hearing from them? The best army is a volunteer army and it’d be great to have your own people recommending and suggesting that people apply.

Ben Haiman: Yeah, I think there’s a lot to unpack in that question, and certainly the officer experience the last three years has varied. There’s been really high moments and low moments throughout that experience. I think right now we’re at one of the more challenging times, with 600 and some officers less than our high staffing numbers. That adds a lot of pressure to the individual officers. Right now we’re averaging about 500 officers’ equivalent of overtime a year, which is a tremendous amount of pressure on the existing workforce. Our officers are the best salespeople for our agency. They do it every day. Our recruiting efforts really come back to the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department and the work that they do in the community, and they’re telling the story of who they are, what they represent, and what this agency is trying to do. That is very attractive to many candidates.

We’ve done some polling and surveying recently as we did a culture assessment for the agency. The Police Executive Research Forum did a comprehensive assessment of top-down, bottom-up and side-to-side for two years. They had unfettered access to everything within the agency, including talking with our personnel. And I think they got a more nuanced piece. I mean, many people that are looking at policing, it’s not the same as when they joined, even 15 years. It’s not the same when I came into this agency and it’s not going to be the same in another 15 years. And I think our officers, as reluctant as policing is to change, our agency also welcomes it in many ways. So I think our workforce has been in that tumult. We’re dealing with legislation right now that frankly makes officers’ jobs a lot harder and some kind of makes it a little bit easier for the bad guy.

And that certainly weighs on officers when they’re arresting and rearresting and rearresting the same person over and over and over again. But I think our leaders within the agency helped frame that perspective to officers about the value and the impact that they’re making on that moment in that scene. Certainly, I don’t think we have 100% satisfaction. I’m not naive to suggest that, but I do think certainly our officers would reflect a lot stronger satisfaction. When we look at ways to get that kind of increase, we just reached last year a collective bargaining agreement with our union and put at the table a good contract in place. Frankly, it was a substantial increase for officers including a base retention differential, an additional 5% for those with five years on, in addition to cost of living increases, netting just over 10% for a three-year contract. We’re back at the table again.

And so again, looking to make sure that from a city leadership perspective, we’ve engaged our fraternal order of police and it’s never going to be a hand-in-hand relationship, but there’s always going to be some give and take, but we also want to make sure that the officers are supported in that process. I think the challenges come with any sort of change. We had a lot of tumult around our discipline system. It became non-bargainable. But what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard so far from our members is they view the new system that management has put in place is fairer than the old system that was there.

And so we’re looking at kind of job satisfaction through multiple lenses. It’s not only just what incentives can you do, but then also access to education leadership programs. We’ve opened up a lot of different pathways to education programs and leadership programs. We’re doing tuition reimbursement, helping to repay loans. So we’re doing a lot of different things to try to keep our workforce engaged, motivated. And really all of this is due to the support we receive here at MPD from our mayor’s office, which is very helpful.

Jim Dudley: I love what you said about everyone in your agency being a recruiter, but certainly you have a dedicated cadre of recruiters and I want to know what that process looks like. And being a data guy, are you keeping some sort of a business log of a number of contacts? How many follow-ups? What matriculated into a successful recruit?

Ben Haiman: Yeah, so there are a few parts to that question. Actually, we don’t have as large of an outreach or recruiting outreach staff as one might suspect. We have two dedicated full-time outreach officers dedicated for sworn members, one for our cadets who’s a professional staff member. So that’s a very small number. A lot of our strategy has shifted over the years to meet applicants where they were. So as we looked at our success ratios. Job fairs were netting about one out of every 1,000 candidates, would end up being a successful hire. That’s a lot of time spent on job fair floors to get one person out of every 1,000 that expressed interest came from that job fair. The web presence and friends and family were the largest kinds of pathways. About 80% of our applicants come either from digital platforms or through referrals from friends and family. So we doubled down in the areas we’re having success.

A lot of our strategy is digital advertising. Our team, and I have a larger team that does that type of work, and they’re really quite good at what they do. They do a lot of advertising, targeted advertising. Some are marketing where we’re just putting up brand awareness-type pieces. Some are actually very targeted. It’s the specific campaigns at locations where that campaign is anticipated to have an impact. And we’ve seen that. So I challenged the team recently to look at one of the communities, from a data perspective, that wasn’t reflective of the diversity. So our Hispanic community and our Latino community here in D.C. We weren’t seeing the number of applicants come through from those communities that were representative of the community that we’re serving. I challenged the team, and so it was right around 7% of our applicants where I’d expect it to be around 10%. The last three months, they’d been closer to 15% due to their recruiting efforts. And so we’re watching that very carefully in terms of the success and throughput of the various different strategies.

There’s always value in the hand-to-hand, going in front of a classroom, having conversations with students and building those relationships. We do that through our internship program. We do that through our domestic violence liaison program, our community engagement academy, various pipeline programs that we have and the staff is important, is impactful in those spaces. But a lot of our efforts people left and we got a lot of angry messages from NYPD about all of our ads in the subways up in New York. But to be very candid with you, 25% of our applicant pool comes from New York. And that’s because of the success we’ve had in advertising and, frankly, our process speed to be able to move candidates through our agency’s process very quickly.

And so we’ve had benefits with doing that. All of our strategies are mostly local. About 70% of our candidates come from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. If you add in neighboring kind of states, New York is the next largest pool. We get very few candidates, about 15% that are further than that immediate area. And what we know is candidates who are from the area are more likely to stay. Our outreach officers really target the local community and they make efforts with the D.C. local schools, Maryland and Virginia. But we don’t do a lot of out-of-state job fair recruiting just because it doesn’t net much impact.

Jim Dudley: Sure. Yeah. And poaching, don’t feel bad. Everybody’s doing it.

Ben Haiman: Oh, everybody does it.

Jim Dudley: Respectful of your time. Thanks so much for being on the program. I want to ask you one final question, and that’s about your biggest challenge, pitfalls. What would be your advice to an agency looking to revamp its recruiting process?

Ben Haiman: I think when you think about police recruiting, it should be about going after the candidates that you really want to be in police work, to be doing the job, to be tackling the difficult issues of the community today. Unfortunately, what we see throughout police departments all across this country, frankly all across the world, is rather than doing intentional efforts to bring in the candidates you want, the recruiting process is really a series of cuts. You start with anyone who’s interested and then you slowly whittle out and eliminate candidates until you’re left with people who didn’t fail out of the written exam, who didn’t fail out of the physical ability, who didn’t fail out the polygraph phase, the medical phase, the psychological phase. And then you assume that those are the right candidates to hire.

And I think the biggest challenge is in an era where every agency is scrapping for one, two or three candidates. I mean, there have been months recently where our recruit class, which is supposed to be 25 people, we had six and five. And those numbers, I would be desperate for a seventh or an eighth person in those classes. Every single number matters. But how do you as an agency think about your process of really bringing the people that you need into policing? The skill sets, the diversity, the different kinds of mindsets, how do you bring them into, as opposed to weed people out of your process?

I think that’s something we’re still working on getting right. I don’t think we have a magic formula for that, but I think any agency that’s just simply trying to perfect its process of exclusion, you can do that pretty simply. The process of bringing new talent into the agency and really making that agency stand apart and having a process that’s supportive and conducive to that, that’s a real challenge. I see that for the next five, 10 years as continuing to be our big challenge here as well. And so Jim, thank you so much for having me on today and really appreciate the time just to talk with you.

Jim Dudley: Thank you so much again, Chief of Staff, Ben Haiman, recruitment initiatives at Washington, D.C., Metro PD. Thanks so much for your time today.

Ben Haiman: Thanks, Jim. Have a good one.

Jim Dudley: You too. All right. To our listeners, hope you enjoy today’s program. Let me know what you think. Drop me an email at and let me know what you think and what you want to hear about and who you want to hear about. All right, take good care. Talk to you again real soon. Stay safe.

Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing