St. Paul police bring recruitment to the movie theaters

December 21, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — St. Paul police are taking recruitment efforts to the big screen.

The police department has a new trailer-length video that will run at select movie theaters starting Friday as part of its effort to recruit more women to the force. The 55-second recruitment video features St. Paul Officer Anna Taylor and will air at Mann theatres across Minnesota.

The number of female police officers in the city has dipped in recent years, which some have attributed to dismal recruitment practices while others point to police shooting controversies such as the death of Philando Castile in 2016. The lack of interest in entering the field is a statewide issue, with the number of people taking this year’s peace officer licensing exam on pace to be the lowest total in about a decade, according to the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.

But only 90 of the St. Paul police department’s 630 officers are women, according to department data.

“We’ve struggled,” said St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. “Since 2016 we have become more racially diverse, significantly, but we have not kept up with that trend with our female officers.”

Axtell said they need more women applicants in order to make progress hiring more female officers. Less than 15 percent of the department’s applicants this year were women, he said.

The department spent $5,000 to produce the new recruitment video, which is intended to tell women that they have a place in a field that’s long been considered male-dominated and unwelcoming, Axtell said.

“We have to show women that it isn’t their grandfather’s police department anymore,” Axtell said. ”. You can be yourself — a mom, an athlete, a wife, a traveler, anything, and be a police officer at the same time. We have to change the way people, especially women, view this job and this film is a step in that direction.”

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