Stephen Henderson talks with Detroit Police Officers Lieutenant Keethe Williams, Commanding Officer of Training for the Detroit Police Department, and Lieutenant Melissa Gardener, Commanding Officer of Recruiting for the Detroit Police Department, about how they recruit and train officers.
- Career opportunities: Stephen asks why people are attracted to a difficult job with such low pay, at $29,000 a year starting salary. Gardener says that the opportunity to advance within the organization and move your career at your own pace is a major part of the appeal. She also says to remember that this is a starting salary, and that officers can earn more money.
- Service: Gardener says many people who enter police training have made up their minds to be police officers because they want to serve their communities, or because they have family members who are a part of the police force.
- Comprehensive training: Williams says Detroit police training is some of the hardest in the country. He says state guidelines require a minimum of 594 hours of training. He says this training covers everything, including an intense eight week legal course, as well as emergency vehicle training and first aid. Even after recruits complete training, he says they complete field training and then a probationary period, as well as yearly training for the entirety of their careers.
- Support systems: A caller asks how officers are equipped to deal with the traumatic things they are likely to see during their careers. Williams says that officers go through “emotional survival training”, have a peer support group, and are monitored for mental health if they have experienced trauma.
- Investing in future and community: Gardener talks about the Detroit Police Department’s high school internship program, and says they try to invest in their future by reaching out to young people. Williams says he thinks that Chief James Craig is doing a good job bridging the between the police and communities, and that the dynamics are changing for the better.
Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.