Recruitment Campaign For Summer Help Pays Off For Nantucket Police Department

In light of fears that interest in law enforcement careers among young people was waning, the Nantucket Police Department back in January launched a revamped recruiting campaign and streamlined application process for its Community Service Officer (CSO) program, commonly known as “summer specials.” That investment, it seems, has paid off. The department received a surge of applications – 81 in total – a number that is far more than they could have hoped for just a few months ago. It’s more than enough to fill the 40 positions the department is seeking to fill, and a number that will allow them to be selective with who they hire and bring in the best candidates.

“That is the best we have had in recent years,” Police Chief Bill Pittman said. “I’m optimistic that we will be able to fill all of our seasonal slots.”

The renewed interest in the program represents a significant win for the department, which relies on CSOs to be its eyes and ears around the island during the busy summer months, and fulfill some of the more menial tasks like traffic control and parking enforcement. Lieutenant Angus MacVicar said his first call after tallying the number of applicants was to the town’s event coordinator, asking her to inform the organizers of summer events like  the Nantucket Triathlon and the Firecracker 5K that their events could indeed move forward. 

“We haven’t had 81 (applicants) in 10 years,” MacVicar said. “When you have 81 applications in a year, I can almost guarantee you we’ll have more than that next year because I know the success of this program and what they’ll say to their friends, peers and family about it.”

Last year the Nantucket Police Department had hoped to hire 34 community resource officers for the season to  assist the department in a range of areas including crowd and traffic control, beach patrols, parking enforcement and more. But the department received a total of only 20 applicants, a massive decline in interest from prior years, and the impact was significant. Even as the state’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in the spring of 2021, the town announced that the Fourth of July celebration and Main Street activities were cancelled due to the staffing crunch. The town prevented Nantucket Cottage Hospital from holding its Boston Pops concert – the hospital’s largest annual fundraiser – in August, citing the lack of manpower to safely stage the event at Jetties Beach.  

Fearing a repeat, MacVicar and his colleagues at the police department developed a new flyer this year for the community resource officer program and took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as online recruitment programs to connect with hundreds of college campuses, in a two-month campaign to cure the department’s seasonal staffing woes. They also streamlined the application process by moving it online, making it easier for applicants to submit the necessary forms and background checks. 

This year the program is offering successful candidates a starting hourly rate of $24 per hour, and it provides housing for the summer at the LORAN barracks in Sconset at a rate of $95 per week.

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