Omaha Police work to boost recruitment numbers midway through application period

Omaha Police are seeking their next round of recruits -- and hope to make the force more diverse in the process.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:51 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Police are gearing up for their next recruitment class.

They’re trying to fill about 50 spots with an applicant pool size that’s, so far, smaller than they had hoped.

“So far it’s been a little bit slower than we had hoped,” said Capt. Marcia West, who works on recruitment. “Right now, we have about 175 [applications].”

The application period opened on Jan. 9 and will stay open for a month. Last year, they had 486 applicants. That’s nearly half as many applicants as in 2020.

“Of course, we’d like to have a larger pool of candidates, but I think we’ll still be able to get good quality candidates with the number that we have,” West said.

Dr. Eric Meyer, a former Omaha Police officer who is now Creighton criminal justice professor, says that he’s seen this trend nationwide, too.

“Now in speaking to police chiefs across the country, even in cities the same size as Omaha, they’re only having a few hundred applicants who are showing up to take the test,” he said.

One tactic Omaha Police implemented this year is to open applications every January. Before it was as needed. They’re also ramping up advertisements.

“We’re advertising across all social media platforms. We’ve also had radio ads. And we’ve actually had TV commercials as well during the playoff football games,” said West.

The application closes Feb. 9. Omaha Police officials say close to the deadline is when they see many of their submissions roll in, so there’s still time. The process includes a written and physical test and a mental and physical evaluation.

6 News also requested the current demographics of the Omaha Police Department. According to their public information department, there are currently 806 full-time officers, 84% of whom are male and 16% female; 77% are white, 9% black, 11% Hispanic, and 2% are Asian.