Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

'Cougar' cops seek young recruits

Cartoon / Rod Emmerson
Cartoon / Rod Emmerson

Cops are like cougars ... they like 'em young, too - or so their ads say.

In a bid to recruit more young officers, police have launched a campaign aimed at school leavers and under-25s.

The ads, which also refer to teen singing sensation Justin Bieber, will run on websites, radio and on poster boards at holiday hotspots.

Police recruitment marketing manager James Whitaker said if current recruitment and attrition trends continued, a quarter of all officers would be 50 or older by 2019, compared with 6.9 per cent in 2000.

"This may have a serious impact on the numbers who are able - or willing - to act in 24/7 frontline response roles," he said.

"More specifically, we're aiming to attract intelligent, balanced, non-judgmental young people, and using a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour is a sound way to engage people in our target group who are able to read the fine print and find the key point in a message of that nature."

Some of the ads are: "We've got a lot in common with cougars. We like 'em young", "Get paid more than your dad", "We endorse queue cutting".

Another says: "There are lots of people who think young folk can't join the New Zealand Police. But then again, there are lots of people who think Justin Bieber is cool too."

Mr Whitaker said the ads also aimed to address the myths that police did not want to employ young people, that officers were not paid well and that candidates had to wait before being called up for police college.

"All of the adverts in the current campaign are youth-centric, and use ideas like earning a good salary, skipping to the front of a queue, etc, and language that youth commonly use and see as perfectly acceptable.

"Cougars are merely identified as a group that are interested in those under 25 years old - as are we when we are looking to attract new police recruits."

Mr Whitaker said there had been a huge response to the campaign.

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