Cambridge police seeking recruits

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/CPD
The Cambridge Police Department is looking for new officers to join them. This photo shows members in 2017.

CAMBRIDGE — The Cambridge Police Department (CPD) is looking for new officers. But filling out an application and hoping for the best isn’t how this works.

Operations Captain Justin Todd said last week it takes a person who wants to give back to his or her town, who can handle stress and irregular hours, and who can pass a rigorous selection process.

Even with an understaffed department actively recruiting, not everybody who applies makes it. In fact, out of a group of 15 who take the first step, a physical fitness test, usually only four or five pass.

And that’s just the start. Afterwards, there is a polygraph, which sometimes disqualifies any remaining applicants.

But the ones who survive that far, and who have no felony convictions, who pass a thorough background check and psychiatric test, still have to attend the six-month course at Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy at Wor-Wic Community College. “It’s an extensive process,” Capt. Todd said.

Indeed it is.

So finding the right applicants makes a big difference. Capt. Todd said that after all the testing and education, it costs the CPD about $30,000 to bring in a new officer, who at that point, is still a rookie who needs guidance and experience.

So the commitment for the department is substantial. To bring in the right people, “We have worked to form not only a recruitment/retention group in the agency, but also, to meet local leaders to promote recruitment,” Capt. Todd said.

Results have been forthcoming, from a couple of sources: First, from among local citizens, a valuable resource considering their connections to the community and knowledge of current situations; and from certified officers who decide to serve in Cambridge.

A recent increase in pay at the department has had the desired effect, as well. Previously, often a new officer would work here for a year or two, and then move on to a department with higher salaries.

“We were missing some of those good officers,” Capt. Todd said. “With an increase in salaries, we have had an increase in certified officers applying.”

The CPD has a group preparing to go to the academy in January, after starting the process in September. “It takes time,” Capt. Todd said.
Through it all, even considering the challenges, he encouraged anyone with an interest in police work to call 410-228-3333 and ask for him. A ride-along with an officer on patrol can be arranged, after a background check.

“Cambridge is a great place to work,” Capt. Todd said.

Citizens’ information
While city police officers are on the job, citizens can take steps of their own to fight crime.

“There’s an app called, ‘Next Door,’” Capt. Todd said. “You can relay information back and forth to each other.”

That could be news nuggets such as an unfamiliar car cruising the area, or a group of non-residents walking together late at night. “Just little stuff to help keep neighborhoods safe,” he said, adding that these conversations are among only the group’s members, but the police can be contacted via the app, as well.

There is also LexisNexis Community Crime Map available to the public. “You can go on there and get alerts as to what kind of crimes are taking place,” Capt. Todd said. “They are tied into our software system.”

That means that when incidents are filed at the department, they are visible on the map, something that is helping officers and civilians already. “It’s really looking good,” he said.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.