Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Despite national trends of a shortage of police recruits, FAUPD is experiencing a different situation

Surveys show that there is a shortage of police recruits and an increase in resignations nationwide, but FAUPD differs from this pattern.
University Police station with a police car parked out front.
Matt Vogdes
University Police station with a police car parked out front.

A survey from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 2019 found that 65% of agencies reported having too few candidates applying to be law enforcement officers. 78% reported difficulty in recruiting qualified candidates — but apparently, FAUPD is a slight departure from the trend.

FAUPD Lieutenant Chelsea John-Williams, an FAU graduate, leads the department’s recruitment effort. Many apply, she said, but few are qualified.

“We don’t have an issue necessarily recruiting people because a lot of people that we talk to are interested in becoming officers. We have no shortage of applicants. It’s just getting people to meet all of our qualifications,” said John-Williams.

According to a public records request, FAUPD has received 4,463 applications and hired 23 employees since 2021. 

Their qualifications are similar to other police departments like Boca PD. The general requirements are that candidates have to be at least 21 years of age and have a high school diploma.

There needs to be no felony or misdemeanor records and have signs of good moral character in background checks. John-Williams says that prior certification is preferred, but FAUPD will send candidates to the police academy if otherwise. In addition physical agility, medical and psychological screenings are required. 

John-Williams said that the polygraph test brings many applicants trouble. If the results show signs of deception, the person who conducts the test will ask additional questions and compose a report. FAUPD then reviews it and determines if they will hire the candidate.

“It’s not just a few things that we check a box off for, it’s kind of a totality of all those different tests. And that’s why people will not pass them because there are so many different facets we look at to become an officer. You have a big responsibility,” said John-Williams.

FAUPD Chief Sean Brammer said that FAU is a different environment than most departments since it’s more community-policing oriented.

“At PBSO, if you call and say, ‘My roommates are knocking at my door at two in the morning,’ they might be like, ‘Alright, well, that’s your problem.’ But here we’re going to take the time, work with housing, and come up with a plan, and get the situation resolved. It’s just a different type of policing overall, it just takes the right candidate,” said John-Willams. 

Brammer explained most other agencies have a specific division focused on community policing. At FAUPD, it’s every officer. 

 “Our environment is a little different than everywhere else. We’re dealing with a moldable community. We’re preparing for the next generation to take over. So, for me, to lower the standard is kind of like accepting that anyone or anything goes in our department. I’d rather be short than to be fully staffed, but having people that will abuse our students,” said Brammer.

FAUPD is trying to repair the relationship with the community on a local scale.

“With recent events, we’ll talk about the last seven years, where you’ve seen across the country where law enforcement took stronger actions against a citizen than they should have, we’ve seen unarmed people being shot for no reason. So, the public perception of law enforcement has gone down. Public trust has gone down across the board,” said Brammer.

Police departments now have to look closely at what is affecting their candidate pool and adapt  to encourage recruits effectively. 

“It just requires law enforcement to be more aggressive by taking a look at how we’re doing things, look at benefit packages we can provide…You just have to be very creative as it relates to giving them something,” said Rodney Bryant, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the former police chief of the Atlanta Police Department.

John-Williams highlights that explaining the long-term benefits that the department offers, like retirement, healthcare and academic assistance, “sells itself” instead of forcing interest. She explains this is vital to younger candidates who may not understand the appeal of long-term benefits.

When asked why and who should join FAUPD, Brammer highlights the importance of community. 

“We’re here to help build bridges, break down walls and ensure that we change the perception of law enforcement from this ground level up. It’s easier to put a handprint on somebody here than always having to put a handcuff. Do we have to do it? Absolutely, there’s sometimes when we have to put a handcuff. But now we can truly build a partnership with our community,” said Brammer. 

Kim Nguyen is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected].

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