Sheriff turns to new look to recruit new deputies

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"I think that helps us do our job when we're out talking to people," said Lt. Tim Myers, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office, "when we're at events."

Over the last week, KAKE News has shown how both the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office are fighting to find new recruits to fill dozens of empty positions.  Many of the traditional methods of finding recruits just aren't working.  So the Sheriff is hoping a 21st century advertising trend will help out.

"It's brighter, lighter, not so dark," Mike Campbell of Wichita said as he checked out a new design decorating one of the Sheriff's Office vehicles.  "People always look at police and law enforcement as bad or evil and that actually looks a bit more friendly and... likeable, I guess." 

Looking good.. and drawing the eye, is the first step in the sheriff's hopes for boosting recruitment.

"It's advertising 24 hours a day," said Mike Harrison, who installed the vinyls.  "It seems to be more of the trend now," he added about advertising wraps.

Lots of advertising reaching lots of eyes are what the Sheriff's Office needs to help fill nearly 50 empty positions at the county jail.  

Looking at the new Wichita-centric design featuring a sunrise, a traditional sheriff's badge, the Keeper of the Plains, wheat, and a sunset, Sheriff Jeff Easter said the traditional methods of advertising jobs just aren't bringing in the needed applicants.  He hopes this new 21st century rolling bill board will help.

Sheriff's deputies say they've already found greater success using social media.

"A significant difference," said Lt. Tim Myers.  "From when you're trying to recruit people to come to work for you, to the way that they respond to job postings and everything else.  I think that you have to be at the forefront of social media."

Within hours of its unveiling, the Kansas-friendly sheriff's vehicle made a starring appearance in a video on the department's Twitter and Facebook feeds.

"It really stands out.  There's a lot of color, a lot of detail," said Krissy Brown, getting a first look at the new design.

The department currently only has one vehicle with the new look.  The decor cost a little bit more than the usual paint job but, if it's successful at driving recruitment, the sheriff says it'll be worth it and they'll consider adding more to the fleet.

Some who've seen the new vehicle already agree it will be useful for recruiting.

"I think it would be very sharp," said Nicole Rinck.  "Like, what's that? What's it all about?"

She found one particular feature encouraging.

"Their ethics are on there, so that's kind of nice, that they, hopefully, will make that a point to follow," Rinck added.

Others aren't so sure a vehicle will be enough to turn the department's recruitment problems around.

"I don't think a vehicle itself, no matter what color or decals you put on it, are going to attract anybody," said Campbell.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

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