Last Issue: Tuesday, December 18 2007
 
 
University Police Seeks Recruits

By Monette Bailey
Published on 15-Nov-05

A still shot from the recruitment DVD produced by University Video.

Boasting the only university-based police academy in the state and a tuition benefit unmatched by surrounding police forces, the university's Department of Public Safety offers aspiring law enforcement officers attractive reasons for choosing employment at Maryland.

The force is seeking to increase its ranks through a more aggressive recruitment campaign. Maj. James Hamrick, commander of the training and special operations bureau, says that six new budget lines will allow the department to get closer to its full contingent of 90 sworn officers. However, he says because of tighter restrictions on candidate backgrounds, police departments in many areas are looking at "a shrinking pool of highly qualified candidates. We have to look at 100 applicants to fill 10 [academy] seats." Sessions enroll a maximum of 20 candidates.

Also, Hamrick says, "just through annual attrition, we lose on average a half dozen per year." An intense training course may have something to do with vacant slots. "It's a long process, 20 weeks in the academy and 12 field training weeks."

The end result, though, is a team of some of the best-trained and most well-rounded officers in the state, says Hamrick. He would like to see more women and officers of color in University Police uniforms.

"We want to reflect the ethnicity and diversity in our community. We're very aggressive with affirmative action recruiting, but it can be difficult, particularly with women."

In a new DVD produced by University Video for the department to use at job fairs and other recruitment opportunities, officer Nashawn Taylor says she joined the force "because I really wanted to make a difference in the community." For colleague Richard Mugerwa, becoming a University Police officer fulfilled a childhood dream.

Hamrick says that one advantage that helps University Police compete with nearby agencies is tuition remission, which supports the department's goal to "exemplify a well-educated police force. We don't require any college education to apply, though most have some and most end up going through school."

Mugerwa is an example. "I'm taking graduate-level courses in collective bargaining, employment law, management classes, things that'll help me in my career later on," he says.

More than an employment benefit, being located in a university gives officers policing experience in an interesting environment. Maryland is often compared to a small city and as such, comes with some of the same challenges. Hamrick wants to make it clearUniversity Police are professional law enforcement officials with all the powers of non-university officers anywhere in the state. Its state-accredited academy regularly trains candidates for other agencies.

"We're also internationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies," he says.

Hamrick says that those looking for a good start in law enforcement may find what they want in a career with University Police. As the DVD narrator says, "If you can handle it, the professional tools, the professional training, then the University of Maryland can put you on the front lines of police work."

For more information about the University Police, call 301.405.5764 or visit www.umpd.umd.edu.
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