Ohio launches ‘one-stop shop’ to help police recruit and retain officers

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Ohio Means Jobs and the Ohio Department of Public Safety launched a new online tool this week with the goal of connecting police departments in dire need of officers with prospective job candidates.

The new tool was unveiled at an event Tuesday in Vandalia with Ohio Lt.. Gov. Jon Husted and state and local law enforcement officials.

In surveying sheriffs and police chiefs in 2021 and 2022, law enforcement leadership’s biggest concern was their ability — or inability — to recruit and retain new talent, said Andy Wilson, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Additionally, many smaller departments don’t have the staff to have dedicated recruiters to solve this problem, Wilson said.

The website is intended to ease the workload, particularly on local and smaller departments to recruit and retain officers, as well as “to actually help applicants better understand and better prepare for a career in law enforcement,” Wilson said.

The OhioMeansJobs site creates a “one stop shop” for both applicants and Ohio police departments looking to recruit them, Wilson said. Applicants can search for jobs by town, by agency, or by geographical region, and access interview tips and other resources for becoming a law enforcement officer.

“It gives individuals one site to go to where they can look for jobs, versus going to individual departments and looking at their websites,” said Vandalia Police Chief Kurt Althouse. “We’re always searching for people locally, but also from other locations or other states that may want to come here and work.”

Applicants for law enforcement jobs have decreased in the last 20 years, and at the same time, many law enforcement officers have chosen to retire or leave the profession entirely, taking with them a wealth of generational and institutional wisdom, said Althouse.

“A lot of institutional knowledge, a lot of experience, and training that’s been invested in that individual,” he said. “And so it’s constantly looking for new, energetic, motivated young people who want to step into those roles.”

Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said his department has well over 500 employees, and vacancies “larger than most police departments,” making the site a very welcome tool.

“Our community overwhelmingly supports local law enforcement. I understand it’s not that way everywhere. But everybody in this room, for the most part, has support from their local communities,” Streck said. “Despite what some would like to think, this is still, as people have said, a very noble profession. It is a needed profession.”

“Serving in the military and serving as a law enforcement official, I believe, are among the most noble things a person can do,” said Husted. “Because in those jobs, they are sacrificing potentially their own lives for the protection of others. They are willing to make those kinds of sacrifices every day.”

“From an economic development point of view ... if you want to have a prosperous community, you need the men and women of law enforcement to keep your community safe, and to send a message to the criminal element: go somewhere else,” Husted added.

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