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NYPD Eyes Entertainment Ad Agency for $54M Diversity Recruitment Push

By Katie Honan | August 15, 2017 3:06pm
 Walton Isaacson has been selected by the NYPD to boost diversity and service-minded police recruits.
Walton Isaacson has been selected by the NYPD to boost diversity and service-minded police recruits.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

NEW YORK CITY — An advertising agency that has worked with the Oscars, McDonald's and the Los Angeles Dodgers has been selected by the NYPD to diversify its ranks, which is about half white.

The NYPD is looking for city approval to hire Walton Isaacson, a small ad agency formed in 2006 with backing from Earvin "Magic" Johnson, for a $54 million, five-year contract to help with its recruitment outreach.

The ad agency, which is based in Los Angeles and has offices in New York, Chicago and Miami, is known for its diversity — and touts they are "the planet's most interesting agency." They were named Black Enterprise Magazine's Advertising Agency of the Year in 2013,  which wrote they were "responsible for an innovative range of campaigns that have wholly reinvented the traditional advertising agency model."

A public hearing on the contract will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at 1 Centre St. to discuss the contract, which still needs approval from the comptroller's office. 

If it's approved, they'll help with the NYPD's push to diversify its force, with a particular focus on African American, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, women and LGBTQ applicants, according to the request for proposals released last October.

As of July 31, about half — or more than 18,000 — of the 36,305 uniformed police officers are white,  whereas the city is only 44 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are more than 9,980 Hispanic officers, 5,515 black officers, 2,692 Asian officers and 19 who are Native American, according to NYPD statistics. 

The recent academy class sworn in July 7 was also majority male and white, although recent classes have been more diverse than ever.

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The campaign will also hopefully "attract service-minded individuals" as the NYPD begins a more neighborhood-focused approach to policing as crime hits record-low numbers.

"A successful recruiting marketing campaign will address and emphasize the primary role of human relations in order to effectively identify and recruit the highest quality and most diverse candidates; as well as the need for courage to fight crime, prevent terrorism and engage the public with a service-oriented philosophy," the proposal says.

Since at least 2002, the NYPD has worked with the Bernard Hodes Group for recruitment campaigns, paying $62 million in contracts, the most recent renewed in 2010.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on the pending contract.

Aaron Walton, a co-founder and CEO of Walton Isaacson, told DNAinfo New York he couldn't comment before the contract was finalized.