While law enforcement agencies around the metro area and around the country are facing officer shortages, the Marietta Police Department doesn’t share that problem.
The MPD is fully staffed with 142 officers and 12 Public Safety Ambassadors — and there’s even a waiting list for uniform officers, said Chief Dan Flynn.
Flynn said a large part of that comes down to appealing to millennials, those who reached young adulthood roughly around the turn of the millennium. He said while some MPD officers have transferred in from other agencies, the majority of the department’s newer hires are from people just starting out in law enforcement.
“We have found that this younger generation is filled with quality young men and women wanting to become part of a department that values them and gives them a chance to serve their community,” he said. “We simply need to ensure our leadership style throughout all ranks creates an environment for them to grow and thrive.”
That can be as simple as rethinking the agency’s facial hair and tattoo policy, allowing officers to wear both, within limits. It also means recognizing that many millennials have a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves and to know that their career contributes to society.
“While working to recruit young people, we stress the positive and rewarding aspects of being an officer,” Flynn said. “For example, we teach them that while in other occupations, the people you work with are referred to as employees, associates, colleagues or co-workers. In policing, we work with brothers and sisters nationwide. To a young person longing to make a difference and be part of something bigger, this can be very powerful.
“When you add that there are opportunities to rescue people in distress, save lives, counsel people who are seeking direction, you are appealing to the deep goodness many young people today have,” he added.
Flynn said younger officers especially appreciate positive reinforcement, and leadership goes out of its way to point out when they go above the call of duty.
“We know many of our youngest group of employees were raised in environments where everyone received trophies, win or lose, and they were instilled with the notion that you can be anything or do anything you want,” he said. “Thus, they grew up expecting a lot of praise any time they go above and beyond departmental standards in articulable ways. So, when appropriate, we give it to them in the form of written commendations, medals and awards; and it resonates.”
Flynn said everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done, but officers have bills to pay, too, and MPD offers competitive salary and benefits with strong pension and health insurance plans. The department also provides training opportunities with the latest technology and equipment, as well as objective advancement criteria and numerous specialized assignments, such as detective or SWAT, Flynn added. And the chief said the Marietta community largely supports its police, which all contribute to high officer morale.
“The bottom line about police recruitment is that before applying, most qualified potential police applicants reach out and contacts officers who already work for that department and they ask a simple question: ‘What’s it like to work there?’ If they get positive, constructive answers, they are more likely to apply,” Flynn said.
One young member of the department, Officer Salyers, said he joined the MPD about a year ago after growing up in Marietta and described why he chose the profession.
“Ever since I was a kid, I grew up respecting the local law enforcement in the area and just knew I had to serve amongst one of the best police departments, not statewide, but nationwide,” he said. “I chose the Marietta Police Department because I knew I had the ability to connect with the younger generation and different cultures in the surrounding area.
“With me being such a younger officer, I didn’t know how I would be welcomed into the law enforcement community until I joined the Marietta Police Department. The experience is amazing. From the command staff to the other officers I work with, I have never felt so welcomed into a family until now. The Marietta Police Department is one of the finest police departments in the country.”