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Public Safety

City Council Approves Marketing Contract To Boost San Diego Police Recruitment

The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.
Milan Kovacevic
The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved a media branding and marketing contract to bolster police recruitment efforts.

The $350,000 contract with downtown-based Loma Media extends two years, with options to extend three more years.

The San Diego Police Department has for several years dealt with a staffing crisis that has lengthened response times and increased overtime budgets. Prior to 2014, the department received approximately 2,500 applications annually. Now, that figure is closer to 1,500 applications each year, SDPD Chief David Nisleit said.

Officer salaries will rise with the coming fiscal year budget, which is expected to aid recruiting.

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But competing agencies in San Diego County and Southern California aggressively market themselves to potential applicants, Nisleit said.

SDPD has typically used internal resources to attract and hire officers. The department's contract with Loma is intended to narrow the gap with branding initiatives, including a new slogan and improved website.

Marketing would also be conducted via billboard, radio, television and social media, with a heavy emphasis on the latter medium to target 20- to 30-year-old applicants.

Nisleit said social media should allow the department to attract diverse applicants.

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"I'm looking to hire men and women that are reflective of the communities we serve," he said.

Loma was one of four companies that responded to a request for proposals sent out by SDPD earlier in the year. A panel selected the firm because of its social media expertise and prior clients, which include the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, Semper Fi Fund, UC San Diego and Google, among others.

Funding for the first two years of the marketing contract was included in the current fiscal year budget.

Going forward, SDPD is expected to update the council on how marketing efforts affect recruitment.