The Carmel Police Dept. has been on a hiring boom of late, welcoming 17 new officers this year with plans to add a similar number in 2022. During most years, CPD adds two to five new officers to account for retirements and resignations as well as the growing size of the force, according to Lt. Tim Byrne.
The recent growth of the department is due in large part to Carmel Clay Schools’ efforts to place a school resource officer at every campus, but CPD officials are also expecting five to 10 officers to retire in 2022, increasing the need to find new recruits.
This all comes at a time when it’s becoming more difficult to find qualified police officers, as only 93 percent of available police officer positions are being filled nationwide, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, which also found that the hiring of new officers has been unable to keep pace with increases in resignations and retirements in 2020-21 compared to the previous year.
And, to further complicate matters, the hiring process to become a CPD officer is lengthy and “intensive,” Byrne said.
“It takes quite a while to get through the entire hiring process, but that’s one of the areas we’ve been trying to improve so that we don’t have people waiting, sometimes up to a year, from the time they start the process to the time they’re getting hired,” Byrne said. “We’re really trying to speed that process up without compromising the integrity of the process.”
That process includes filling out an application, written and physical tests, interviews, a polygraph, psychological and medical evaluations, and an in-depth background investigation that involves interviews with former employers, friends, neighbors, coworkers, a credit check and a review of social media accounts.
If the officer is working at another department the background investigation requires a CPD officer to go on a ride along with the officer during his shift. The applicant also completes a ride along in Carmel to see if the city might be a good fit.
If all goes well, the candidate goes before the state pension board and the Carmel Police Merit Board for a final review. Then an employment offer can be made. Most candidates don’t make it that far.
The hiring process is the same for all officer candidates — whether they live locally or want to join CPD from a department out of state, which can make the process pricey as well as time consuming.
“That becomes a pretty expensive venture for us, but we really look at it as we’re investing in that officer,” Byrne said. “We want to make sure we’re getting the best quality person we can get. That’s part of our system. We don’t change the system based upon were the person is located, their race, their sex or their sexual orientation. That’s what we follow every time, and we find it provides really good results.”
Byrne said CPD has received increased interest from out-of-state officers looking to transfer to work in a community that generally values law enforcement.
“Knowing that you’re supported goes a very long way in officer morale and their desire to want to come into work, because everybody wants to feel appreciated for what they do,” Byrne said. “Police officers have a very difficult job, and to not be supported in addition to having to do that difficult job is very hard on people. That’s one of the many great things about working at the Carmel Police Dept. is the support we receive, and we do have a lot of people who come here seeking it.”
AS CPD grows its police force, it’s aiming to make it more representative of the community it serves. To that end, officers have expanded recruiting efforts of minorities and women, including through a recent presence at the Indy Women’s Half Marathon. CPD has joined the 30×30 project, a national initiative that promotes the goal of a department’s police force being at least 30 percent female by 2030.
Nationally, only 12 percent of all police officers are female. In Carmel, women make up 11 percent of the police force.
Byrne said CPD won’t alter its hiring practices to diversify or meet its 30×30 goal.
“What we’re trying to do is target females to get them interested in law enforcement at the Carmel Police Dept. but also make changes around the police department and how we do things to make the CPD more appealing to female officers,” Byrne said. “The hiring process does not change, because it works and it’s very important we’re bringing in the right people.”
Minimum for police officer candidates
Those interested in becoming a Carmel Police Dept. officer must meet several criteria to be considered for the first phase of the vetting process. Applicants:
- Must be a high school graduate.
- Shall be at least 21 years of age and under the age of 36 or be a veteran who has at least 20 years of service in the armed forces and be no older than 40 years and six months.
- Shall be drug-free and have no convictions for driving under the influence of drugs.
- Shall have no more than two alcohol-related violations as a minor (18-21 years of age).
- Shall have no felony convictions.
- Shall not have received other than an honorable discharge from the military, or other discharge with honorable conditions.
See a full list of requirements at carmel.in.gov/department-services/police/career-opportunities.