OPD turns to social media to recruit new officers

The Oakland Police Department is starting a big campaign to recruit new police officers with the help of social media.
March 20, 2014 5:35:06 PM PDT
You may have seen the posts on Twitter and Facebook, or the giant banner near Interstate 880. It's all part of the Oakland Police Department's aggressive online effort to attract new recruits.

And you can see why Oakland needs more officers. A map, from the city's website, shows you hundreds of crimes in just a week from petty theft to murder.

A big banner on the side of their building saying www.opdjobs.com is a sign of the times for the Oakland Police Department. It's steering potential recruits to their website, to Twitter, and to Facebook. Not only is the department hiring, they've turned to social media to drum up recruits.

"The latest post is that the application is currently open for police officer trainee and the deadline is March 27," said Antone' Hicks.

Hicks is the civilian administrator of the Oakland Police Department recruiting office, which just launched a new twitter account, called @OPDJobs. It's all part of the department's larger effort to attract recruits through social media.

"We believe that social media is very powerful. It reaches a wide range of community members and that's our goal, to reach out to as many people as we possibly can," said Antone' Hicks, an OPD recruiter.

To steer people to the new twitter account, OPD has also hung a 60-foot banner on the side of its headquarters building on 7th Street. It faces the busy I-880 freeway -- a corridor that sees 150,000 cars per day.

"We are increasing our staffing. We are expanding and growing our force, not only the Oakland police department, but the city, we've come together and we are increasing the officers that are out in the community, making a difference every day," said OPD spokesperson Johnna Watson.

Before layoffs five years ago, OPD had more than 800 sworn officers, but that number is now just 615.

"We are starting our next academy, so we're just finishing up the recruitment for that. But we are hopeful to get additional funds, so we are in constant recruiting mode," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

With two academies per year, the department is hoping to have more than 700 officers on the streets, by the end of this year.


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