Over the years, research into the New Zealand (NZ) police force has uncovered that there is an underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities, and the job is seen as unattractive because of inequitable pay and work conditions. Accordingly, NZ has consistently seen shortages in frontline police staff for much of the 21st Century, which led to a government aim to increase the number of police officers. Amongst the attempts to attract people to the force was the “New Cops” recruitment campaign. Alongside television advertisements, the NZ police set up websites with information on the recruitment process and “chats” with currently employed cops. As of 2021, the campaign had been considered a success with over 600 people looking to join each month. Given that the recruitment campaign was designed to persuade audiences to join the police, the aim of this research was to explore how the identities of police officers were constructed. This presentation will recount the application of thematic analysis to NZ police recruitment videos available at chatcops.co.nz. The research found that the campaign emphasised that the NZ police was comprised of diverse people, committed to helping the community, staying fit, and ready to sacrifice for the safety of everyone. The roles were constructed as exciting and fast-paced, but most importantly, those applying were encouraged to bring their unique individuality and personality to the roles. This appears to challenge prevailing views of the police force as monolithic and negative.
Angelique Nairn, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand