By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a problem in most major cities across the country: finding recruits to fill the ranks of its police departments.

Minneapolis Police have made fewer arrests for crime so far this year than they have in the past four years. Many believe having 200 fewer officers on the street is a major factor in the decrease in enforcement.

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Sgt. Keia Boyd, head of MPD’s recruitment effort, was born and raised in south Minneapolis and shares Chief Medaria Arradondo’s vision for a department that reflects the community it serves.

“One of the reasons I became a police officer is to protect my community and what better way than to become a police officer,” said Boyd. “The Chief’s vision is to be more intentional in our efforts and to include the community of Minneapolis in our hiring process and to help us with recruiting.”

She reached out to faith leaders in the community to send qualified candidates to the attention of the department. Boyd also believes helping those interested understand the different ways to enter the profession is key.

“We have the explorer program getting kids in the middle of high school and then feeding them right into our CSO program which will pay up to two years of your tuition if you go to law enforcement school and then you will go right into our academy,” Boyd said.

This route gives candidates the opportunity to get to know the department by working part-time while going to school.

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MPD is also looking for people with degrees in sociology, social work or criminal justice.

“We will pay for your portion of skills, the state-mandated requirements to be a Minnesota licensed police officer, and while you are doing that your benefits kick in right away and you are a full-time employee,” Boyd said.

Boyd believes these efforts will bring out the best-qualified candidates to fill MPD’s ranks.

“I’m optimistic it’s not going to be tough. I’m from the community, I know it didn’t stop with me, I know there are more from the community that want to take on this profession,” said Boyd.

MPD is also using its women’s leadership academy to give women interested in the profession a snip-it of what the academy looks like.

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Reg Chapman