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Recruiting One Applicant at a Time

By F/Lt. Mike Shaw, Second District PIO

As someone who came into the department in the 1990s, I was one of thousands of applicants who wanted to join the MSP. With so many willing candidates, the responsibility fell on me to put in the effort and figure out my way through the application process.  

Fast forward to the 2000s, when the department found itself unable to hire new troopers for several years due to budgetary restrictions, and recruiting all but ceased to exist for nearly a decade. During this time, we lost a lot of ground, and in 2012, when we started hiring again, we had a lot of work to do to build back up our applicant pool. Up against a deadline, the main priority was processing existing applicants and getting them into recruit school as quickly as possible, which left little time for recruiting outreach and cultivation of new relationships. So, the old thought process that 'if you wanted to join the MSP, you need to find us' persisted.

Now, eight years later, police recruiting across our country is facing its greatest challenge yet with the national spotlight on police reform and other social justice movements. It is with this backdrop that the MSP has developed the Southeast Michigan Recruiting Squad. 

This squad, which is part of the Second District Support Unit, is comprised of myself, an acting sergeant, and one trooper from the Brighton, Flint, Metro North and Metro South posts. The first goal we set was twofold: we will continue to seek out the best qualified candidates, but we're going to do some things differently. We recognize that the 'one and done' type contacts such as going to job fairs and community events is not enough to establish a lasting relationship. Therefore, we're going to make an investment in the communities we serve and use these opportunities to show our human side. We're going to work to diffuse some myths about law enforcement and when needed, we'll admit our shortcomings and explain what we are doing to improve. 

The investments we're making will be long-term. We want to get back into our high schools, make contact with active military members who are nearing the end of their service and establish relationships with our veterans and National Guard members. We're also going to take a much more hands-on approach to recruitment. This means guiding applicants through the entire application process, all the way through the end of recruit school. We want to not only be a recruiter, but also a mentor to ensure that those who we recruit are successful as they enter the department.  

Lastly, we're working to build into the future by having the squad mentor teen groups in the community, start an explorer's program, work with other departments and faith-based organizations, and from time-to-time, help with a food bank or other community project. Even though some of these efforts won't yield an applicant today, it's our hope that the relationships we establish will result in future troopers and civilian employees five to ten years down the road. 

Similar to everyone's experience right now, the pandemic is making our outreach efforts a bit more challenging, as some of these groups aren't even meeting. But the troops are currently poring through old applicant lists to reconnect with anyone who may have fallen between the gaps, and building new relationships with organizations that will help us in the future. 

Since this is a new approach to recruiting, we are feeling our way through what works and what doesn't, and we're sure to make adjustments along the way. But I can tell you that our commitment hasn't changed at all from the 1990s - that is to find the best qualified person to continue the legacy of the Michigan State Police…one recruit at a time. 

To learn more about a career with the MSP, visit and to hear the candid reflections of the members of the Southeast Michigan Recruiting Squad, check out the video below.