Police forces across the country are looking for new ways to diversify their workforce. We worked in over 20 cities and counties across the U.S. in collaboration with The Behavioral Insights Team to test different ways to improve police recruitment. In these projects, we varied how the job of a police officer was framed on targeted job ads, and measured what frame was most effective at encouraging new and different people to apply.
We learned that while contexts vary by city, traditional messages that ask people to “come serve their community” or “answer the call for service” are not the most effective way to bring in new applicants. Rather, recruitment messages are more effective when they reflect other intrinsic and extrinsic reasons why someone may want to become a police officer. For example, in Chattanooga, TN, emphasizing that policing was for people who thrived in a challenging environment or that the job was best for those who wanted a long-term career, tripled the likelihood that a person would apply. These frames were even more effective for people of color, quadrupling the likelihood that a person of color would apply to the police.