Recruiting for a future Savannah-Chatham Metro officer - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Recruiting for a future Savannah-Chatham Metro officer

(Source: SCMPD) (Source: SCMPD)

The Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department took another huge step forward dealing with its image, your perception and outside interest in attracting new officers.

The four and a half minute recruitment video is very well done and as with most work, designed to get attention. It is also more about where the police department wants to be, than where it is right now.

The video opens with a stunning time-lapse of the sun rising over the Historic District.

Then the sell is on.

SCMPD Chief Jack Lumpkin knew early on in his now one year tenure, everything had to change in his department or everything would stay the same -- an inability to recruit new officers, an inability to keep those he had, and an inability to pay any of them a competitive wage.

The pay problems could end this week.  

"On Thursday we will be voting to raise the salaries of our police officers. This is a commitment we made and we will be carrying it out,” said Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson.

Thanks to that, recruiting new officers and changing the culture of policing could complete Lumpkin's dream for overhauling the department.

 "We're a progressive police department,” an officer in the video explained. “We're a community oriented police department. You're either moving forward or you're falling behind. And there's quite a bit of positive difference you can make as a police officer."

This video is slick, and does an impressive job of defining what SCMPD want to become.

"I believe community oriented policing is important because it connects a person with someone who serves them,” another officer told the audience.

But even the chief admits, that commitment to community policing is a work in progress, not where the city is today.

"You don't build trust with a vehicle going down the street and you can't see the driver,” said Chief Lumpkin. “That's why people like the walking beats. That's why they like the horses and the mounted patrols."

Even before the video's release, recent marketing has drawn in new officer applications at a rate not seen in decades here, three times what it was before Lumpkin arrived.

The video, whether it draws on reality or hope for the future, could be the ticket to bringing in new blood to a force desperate for real change.

"The police department, it's in a totally new direction now,” says Cameron Nichols, SCMPD officer, who appears in the recruitment video. “A really good direction for the better.  I really think it's on the up and up."

"The Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department is actively recruiting men and women of character, competence and integrity," the video’s narrator explained.

They're selling it to the rest of the world. The real test will be whether Chief Lumpkin can sell it to an existing force that's been heading a different direction for decades.

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