Rethinking Law Enforcement Recruitment Videos

Recruitment videos are a crucial component of law enforcement departments’ efforts to attract the next generation of officers. However, the traditional recruitment video isn't as effective anymore. Old cliches and the traditional approach are no longer captivating the younger generation. With the changing demographics and advancement of technology, the recruitment approach must also change. As law enforcement recruitment experts ourselves, we'll be discussing why traditional law enforcement recruitment videos have lost their effectiveness. We'll then dive into alternative approaches that agencies can use to attract the next generation of law enforcement officers.

Why have traditional law enforcement recruitment videos become ineffective?

The traditional recruitment videos share a common flaw: they all look the same. Cliche statements line up with heroic actions, the American flag in the background, and picture-perfect facilities – all overshadowed with a voice-over of someone trying to sell the "uniqueness" of the force. These types of videos worked before millennials and Gen Z’s, but less so now. With the availability of information on the internet, potential recruits are looking for bold authenticity in ads that showcase the quirks, personalities, and diversity of the department.

What should a recruitment video look like?

Before trying to come up with the best recruitment video, agencies need to ask themselves what they are looking for in applicants. Start with listing down desirable traits or cultural values the department is looking for in new hires. For example, if the department is seeking candidates with empathy, attention to detail, or a willingness to serve, the department would focus on highlighting those in the video.

One option is showcasing the department's community outreach efforts, which will give potential candidates a glance into the comradery and sense of purpose the officers bring into the job. Alternatively, agencies can showcase individual officers’ day-to-day responsibilities in unique environments. For example, an officer who utilizes their tactics in a residential area can showcase their multitasking skills and ability to deal with the public under pressure.

Showing potential recruits that you value uniqueness and innovation can also be effectively communicated through a well-placed piece of humor or an artistic expression. You don't need a Hollywood-style budget to make a video that's both authentic and attention-grabbing.

Creating a recruitment video that resonates with Gen Z

Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with “search and explore” as a perpetual mindset. They crave transparency and authenticity, leaving little room for preconceived notions about what the job may entail. For Gen Z, a pictorial representation of day to day responsibilities and how the department operates will be more effective than staged portrayals of heroism.

So much of what Gen Z values is intertwined with the increasing accessibility of information. Paying attention to what speaks to them is critical. Instead of traditional methods, agencies need to take a personalized approach, humanizing and showcasing their uniqueness. Understanding your audience and the primary reason why someone would want to be an officer, and showcasing it through innovative means is the key to a recruitment video that resonates with the next generation.