Chief Lumpkin trying to increase police recruiting efforts

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Recruitment within the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department is low and Chief Jack Lumpkin is pushing to increase the number of officers.

At Thursday's Savannah City Council meeting, the chief asked for $144,000 to help with this campaign. The money would be used for digital ads, especially during live sporting events.

"We have to target our recruitment towards the areas that we're going to be able to find the people with the education. We want college graduates; we want people who have held a job before," said Chief Jack Lumpkin, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.

Chief Lumpkin says recruitment in the department is low. It takes a lot to get through the entire process, and they're looking for people with competency and character.

"Only a small percentage of Americans really want to do policing, and only a small percentage has the physical skills or the psychological makeup to actually perform this job," the chief said.

With this annual contract, they're are expecting a minimum of 1,500 monthly visits to their website and 90-100 quality applications per month. In the past, they were getting around 180 applications a month. Now, at the lowest, they've seen 20 to 50 per month.

To get through the initial phase, you have to apply, go through a background check, pass a competency test, polygraph test, interview with a ranking officer, psychological/medical examination, physical agility test, and a drug screening.

"We need every advantage we can to get the best officers we can," said Chief Lumpkin.

This campaign will focus on our area, Southeast Georgia, and South Carolina including Jasper and Beaufort counties, but it all comes down to having qualified applicants with competency and character.

"In today's world, police are under more scrutiny than they have been since the 1960's and 70's so our pool is essentially shrinking to a certain degree while we want to improve our competency, education, and cognitive skills. We want people who can actually police in the 21st Century," said Chief Lumpkin.

Keep in mind, only 10 percent make it through. SCMPD has strict guidelines, but that's because they want good people on the streets. Last year, the chief asked for 100 officers, but Thursday, he asked for more money. Alderman Julian Miller says they're going to have to find funding to bring the police department up to where it needs to be.

"For over a decade, we have starved this police department. We have not given it the resources, the technology, the equipment or the manpower it needs to protect us. We're still trying to dig out of that hole," said Julian Miller, Savannah Alderman, District 4.

Right now, they're trying to boost recruitment with a digital marketing campaign, and with commercials. Miller says the ad campaigns have worked in the past, allowing them to recruit when others couldn't, and it's something they need to do.

"We were bringing in officers at times when many other departments weren't hiring any, and that was because of an advertising campaign that was put together by the community and police department, and it worked very well."

The chief says competitive salaries across the state and unqualified people is the cause of the lack of recruits. He says the department is waiting on study from Berkshire Consulting - an outside source - with a recommendation.

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