'I put in some hard work': Va. cop's tips on recruiting 'largest ever' academy class

Officer Shakita Warren says constant communication with recruits is key

By Sarah Calams

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An officer who has been overseeing recruitment for the Alexandria Police Department (APD) says she “put in some hard work” for this year’s “largest ever” recruit class.

Officer Shakita Warren is now sharing her keys to success as departments around the country continue to grapple with officer recruitment and retention. First and foremost, Warren says constant communication with the department’s recruits is key.

“I try to keep in touch with them like almost every other day,” Warren told WJLA.com. “Let them know that they are wanted, and they are needed here.”

Warren encourages her co-workers to recruit through word of mouth, but she also looks for candidates at colleges and job fairs and has had great success among loss prevention staff at local stores.

“This recruit class that we just sent to the academy – a lot of those individuals come from loss prevention,” Warren said. “We have some stores here in the city, and their loss prevention staff work closely with the police department, and I’m like, ‘Hey, you work closely with us, would you like to work for the police department?’”

APD Chief Don Hayes will also make frequent visits to the academy with Warren over the next several months.

“I’ve already scheduled it on my calendar. At least once a month, I’m going to go to the academy, have lunch with them, talk with them, see if they’re having any struggles,” Hayes told WJLA. “We can do a lot. We just have to be present.”

The department is currently down about 50 officers, but the officers currently attending the academy will be ready for solo patrol by next spring.

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