The Seattle Police Department's unconventional campaign to recruit new officers in New York City has been a huge success, drawing hundreds...

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The Seattle Police Department’s unconventional campaign to recruit new officers in New York City has been a huge success, drawing hundreds of applicants to take the department’s entrance exam later this month.

SPD officials say they’ve received 750 applicants, including 163 of New York’s finest, who will take the test April 19 at New York University.

The turnout is unprecedented — so much so that the department actually had to quit taking applications, said Officer Monique Avery, who said she had expected about 70 people to sign up for the test.

The department raised a few eyebrows when it leased a billboard above the West Side Highway, posted fliers at bus stops across Manhattan and took out an ad in the New York Post seeking recruits.

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Seattle would like to hire 90 officers this year, and at least 65 each year through 2011, said police Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer.

The hiring push was generated by the department’s new Neighborhood Policing plan, which changes officers’ shift hours to improve 911 response times.

Avery said she had to turn applicants away after 750 would-be recruits signed up in the first week and a half. She said she still receives dozens of phone calls and e-mails every day from people begging for a spot on a waiting list.

Avery said she received a call from a New York police officer on Thursday who plans to attend the NYU test in case somebody doesn’t show up.

“People are tired of the living conditions there,” Avery said. “They’re frustrated with city government and tired of the violence. They’re tired of paying so much to live.”

The billboard and fliers advertised “A Job Like No Other” and showed a Seattle police badge and an Internet address.

Starting pay for a Seattle police officer is nearly twice that of an NYPD rookie, and the SPD promises to pay $5,000 toward moving expenses for those recruits it hires.

Kimerer said he’s surprised by the turnout in New York.

“This is a big number,” Kimerer said. “I have to give a nod to the probability that the very low pay [in New York] has got to be a factor.”

Kimerer said it’s a growing trend for police departments to advertise openings in other cities and doubts that the marketing pitch in New York will upset police officials there.

“Police agencies across the country are aggressively hiring right now. It’s not a Seattle problem,” Kimerer said, though he added that he hasn’t seen other departments take out advertisements in local newspapers or purchase billboard space in Seattle.

“The objective of reaching out to New York is to allow people to make choices about the police profession.”

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or

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