post image

Illinois Police Department's Controversial 'Call of Duty' Recruitment Strategy

Austin Dean 01 Mar 2024

In a move that sparked considerable debate and backlash, the Peoria Police Department in Illinois recently unveiled a recruitment poster that leveraged the popular video game franchise, Call of Duty, to attract younger recruits. This strategy, aimed at connecting with the younger generation, ultimately raised questions about the appropriateness and effectiveness of using militaristic imagery to appeal to potential police officers.

The poster, which was quickly pulled down following public outcry, featured images of armed and armored police officers in a formation that bore a striking resemblance to the iconic Call of Duty cover art. The intention behind this unique recruitment approach was to engage with a demographic that is notoriously difficult to reach through traditional advertising. However, the execution fell short of its goal, as it was met with widespread criticism for seemingly glamorizing the militarization of the police force and failing to convey the actual responsibilities and challenges of police work.

Critics of the poster pointed out that it not only misrepresented the role of law enforcement but also potentially attracted individuals with the wrong motivations for joining the force. The use of three white men aiming firearms in the poster further ignited discussions on social media about racial representation and the implications of such imagery in today's socio-political climate. This controversy highlights the delicate balance that needs to be maintained when attempting to appeal to younger audiences, especially in professions as critical and complex as law enforcement.

In response to the backlash, Police Chief Eric Echevarria issued an apology, acknowledging the oversight and affirming the department's commitment to recruiting in a caring and respectful manner. This event acts as a warning for law enforcement organizations worldwide, highlighting the need for marketing approaches that are careful and sensitive and that truly reflect the principles and truths of policing.

As law enforcement agencies continue to navigate the challenges of recruitment in the digital age, the Peoria PD's experience with their Call of Duty-themed poster provides valuable lessons on the power of imagery and the need for careful consideration of how it aligns with public perception and the core mission of police work. It's a reminder that, in the quest to connect with the next generation of officers, agencies must prioritize authenticity and respect for the communities they serve above all.