The Seattle Police Department has erected a billboard in Indianapolis aimed at luring some of its officers to policing jobs in the West Coast city.
The billboard on the east side of Indiana's capital depicts Seattle's picturesque skyline and the message that the Washington state city that's 2,000 miles from Indianapolis is hiring police officers, The Indianapolis Star reported .
Local Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder called the billboard a "canary in the coalmine," saying that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has been losing officers to other cities at an alarming rate.
He said the department may need to adopt a strategy similar to Seattle's and boost its officer-retention efforts if it hopes to prevent younger officers from bolting to other departments that offer better pay or equipment.
"You've got to aggressively recruit new candidates and keep your existing employees happy and engaged," Snyder said. "If it's not Seattle, it's going to be somewhere else. It could be as close as Carmel. It doesn't matter where they go; we've lost them."
A September staffing report says Indianapolis has lost about 100 officers and recruits so far this year. That surpasses the prediction by Mayor Joe Hogsett's administration that the department would lose about 70 officers due to retirements, resignations and terminations.
Hogsett's chief of staff, Thomas Cook, said the administration doesn't think citizens should worry about the billboard.
"I think they should take heart that IMPD's officers are considered, on a national basis, to be the types of folks that anybody would want in their community," he said.
Indianapolis' police department is working to expand its recruitment classes, but Chief Bryan Roach said it's becoming more difficult to recruit new officers. The city sought 60 new officers in June, but only accepted 46.
"We didn't lower our standards," Roach said. "I think you look across the nation, it's harder and harder to get people to be police officers, whether it's the economy, whether it's media-driven."