Cops Are Using TikTok to Recruit a New Generation of Officers

“He loves his job so much he can barely keep his eyes open.”
NSW Police officer takes part in a recruitment video
Photo via NSW Police on TikTok

From Facebook to Google ads, and any number of others, Australia’s various state police forces have long taken an unexpected, if not innovative approach to recruitment. TikTok is only the natural next step in the evolution of their digital recruitment strategy.

There, TikTok users have flooded the comments of a recent video posted by the NSW Police to chastise a white-haired male officer staring blankly at the camera, eyes darting around the room, telling viewers how they, too, can one day end up like him. 

Advertisement

“Your journey to the NSW Police academy, you have to undertake the university certificate in workforce essentials,” he says. “The UCWE is either four weeks or eight weeks learning online. Once you’re in that program, you can undertake an application to the recruitment branch.”

Over the last few years, Australian police have been quick to adopt the vernacular of the social internet to promote both itself and the fruits of being a law-abiding citizen. On Facebook, the force has regularly posted memes, and been quick to return answers to questions in the comments. It has resulted in multiple state branches boasting some of the most highly engaged and largely followed social accounts in the country.

On TikTok, the same is true. Even in its recruitment efforts, the staff running the NSW Police TikTok account have taken to keeping active in the comments, answering questions about medical assessments, criminal records, and salary expectations. 

But users of the platform have been less receptive to them than on 2010s-era social media.

In the comments on NSW Police’s latest recruitment effort, some were quick to point out the clip was a fairly tepid attempt to recruit the state’s next generation of law enforcement officers, who after one year of unpaid training can expect to be paid $76,425 a year “to risk your life”. 

Others criticised the officer’s waning enthusiasm for enforcing the state’s great and just laws, which couldn’t possibly “inspire people to join”.  

Advertisement

The video isn’t the first TikTok posted by NSW Police to draw the ire of critics. Earlier this month, NSW Police posted a video of a bald cop seen putting his cap on his head before the viewer is offered a point-of-view shot of the sole of his boot, before he stomps on the camera.

The clip then transitions to footage of standing by Sydney Harbour, beside another officer, as he proceeds to begin gesturing with disco-style peace signs. 

“Wow, talk about missing the mark!” one commented. “Isn't the police kicking something on the ground just a bad look in general... how tone deaf can they be,” wrote another. “Your PR department needs to review these before you post,” said another.

The account removed the video, and issued an apology. “We’d like to acknowledge concerns raised by members of the community and apologise to anyone who may have been offended by the transition we used,” they said. 

Follow John on Twitter.

Read more from VICE Australia.