Scarp: Police score with restroom recruiting - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Scarp: Police score with restroom recruiting

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Posted: Saturday, June 14, 2008 7:59 pm | Updated: 11:05 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Have you heard this one yet? A bartender walks into a restroom …

You probably haven’t heard it.

Read Mark Scarp's blog, 'Scarpsdale'

By 2006, Carson Dach’s NFL career had ended after a year and a half as a long snapper and tight end for the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, and he didn’t like being a corporate sales representative.

But he had dreams of becoming a police officer.

Living in the Giants’ hometown of East Rutherford, N.J., the Michigan native was placed on waiting lists for several New Jersey police departments as well as New York City’s police force. He started bartending.

Bartending and waiting. Dach, 27, was on NYPD’s list for a year, about the same for the New Jersey departments.

His phone was exercising its right to remain silent. So he tried calling the cops, hoping they’d remember how much he wanted to become one.

“They were very rude,” he said Friday.

So two Thanksgivings ago, he went home to visit his family in Michigan. While there he attended a football game featuring his college team from Eastern Michigan University, which plays once a year at Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

“I walked into a bathroom and above one of the urinals was this ad,” Dach said.

The ad was a, uh, eye-level invitation to consider joining the Scottsdale Police Department, like several ads the department has displayed in restrooms at several stadiums and venues in distant states over the past few years.

The current ads show the desert and the McDowell Mountains.

“This is our backyard. Want to live, work and play here?” they read. “The Scottsdale Police Department is hiring.”

Dach figured he had nothing to lose.

“I thought I’d check it out, thinking that it would take forever like anywhere else.”

Instead, he was told that if everything checked out, he could be in the local police academy in less than four months.

“It was amazing; with NYPD I would never get anybody on the phone,” Dach said. “Everyone in Scottsdale was really very kind. I said, 'Hey, you’re all real nice out here.’ ”

And so, thanks to the nice folks in the local constabulary, by February 2007, three months from walking into that restroom at Ford Field, Carson Dach was in the police academy here in the Valley. Most of his class of 50 recruits were from outside Arizona, he said.

Dach started work as a Scottsdale police officer that July as the first to be recruited by the unusual advertising program. After all, it’s not every restroom that features panoramic photographs of the McDowells.

How he became a cop doesn’t seem as important to him as that he got to be one, got to be one in Scottsdale, and with the side benefit of better starting pay than offered by many Eastern police departments.

The Scottsdale Web site quotes starting pay for a police officer is $50,898.

“I gladly gave up bartending,” he said. But he sure didn’t give up bartender’s hours. Dach works second and third shifts.

It’s paying his dues, he said.

“It’s a tough shift to work, to get used to the hours,” he said. “But for a new officer the experience you get on that shift is invaluable.”

When it comes to crime, Scottsdale is much different from Michigan, even more different from New Jersey, he said, telling us something most of us already know.

“My friends ask me, 'Isn’t there any crime in Scottsdale?’ ” he said. “A lot of property crime here. People think that because they’re in Scottsdale they think nothing bad will happen, but criminals come to Scottsdale because people think that.”

Scottsdale’s unusual restroom campaign to attract potential officers from out of state also attracted big league media attention, city spokesman Pat Dodds said.

Late last month The Washington Post reported about Scottsdale Police Department recruiting ads appearing in restrooms at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals baseball team. The campaign also was reported in April 2007 by the Boston Globe.

“The value of that advertising is incalculable,” Dodds said.

Scottsdale police spokesman Sgt. Mark Clark wrote in an e-mail Friday that in addition to Boston, Detroit and Washington, ads appear in restrooms at stadiums and arenas in Cincinnati, New York and Seattle.

Greg Carlin, Scottsdale’s recruitment officer, “gets calls almost daily regarding these ads,” according to Clark.

Carlin was off Friday, so I didn’t get to ask him this, but I’m pretty sure he is hoping that his Eastern counterparts in keep being rude to people like Carson Dach.

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