News & Politics

The DC Police Department Wants to Recruit New York Foodies, Gamers, and Influencers

An advertising campaign in the New York subway aims to bring Gen-Z and millennial cops to Washington.

Photograph by Brendan Spiegel.

The banner ad depicts the red-white-and-blue badge-shaped logo of Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Police Department. Nearby are images of two young people, as well as an encouragement  for “gamers,” “foodies,” “techies,” and “influencers” to to “Join Us”—”us” being “the next generation of DC Police.” Typing in the ad’s URL or scanning its QR code will take you directly to the department’s hiring page. But this ad, which is running on buses locally, reaches riders on a subway system that doesn’t travel anywhere in DC, Maryland, or Virginia—it’s in New York City.

The call is meant to attract members of Generation Z and millennials, in addition to veterans and second-degree candidates, says Brianna Burch, a spokesperson for the department. So why target subway riders only in New York? Burch cites low ridership on Metrorail for its decision. It’s part of a system-wide subway ad campaign, Burch says, and it’s the first time the DC Police have recruited this way in New York City—though, in the past, the DC force has attracted people from New York and New Jersey.

The DC Police have approximately 3,550 officers, about a tenth the total of the New York City Police Department. According to a press release from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser late last year, that’s the lowest number of officers in two decades. Bowser asked for $11 million to hire 170 police officers in 2020 and 2021; the DC Council provided $5 million instead. (The council also established a Police Reform Commission that recommended several reforms, such as “decentering” the role of police as first responders in some situations.) The US Department of Justice kicked in more than $3 million last December to hire officers.

New Yorkers appear to have noticed the ads: DC offers higher starting pay for cops, prompting the New York Post to write “Hands off our Finest!” in an article about the campaign. And, of course, the subway ads have drawn reactions on Twitter:

David Tran
Editorial Fellow