Police Struggle to Recruit Officers
“A lot of people don’t realize that but we stay really busy,” Sgt. Chris Moore said. He’s seen a lot of change in his 12 years at the of the Pittsburg Police Department.
“Police officers are in the media a lot more than we ever have been since I started,” Moore said.
He believes that’s one of the reasons the department is struggling to find new recruits. While Deputy Chief Brent Narges wouldn’t attribute any one cause, he said the department has four open positions for patrol officers and filling them has been difficult.
“It is my understand other area agencies are also struggling with filling the ranks,” Narges said.
Surrounding departments including Arma, Galena, and Parsons say they’ve had trouble finding qualified applicants. A report from the U.S. Department of Justice says, “less than half of American youths consider a police department or agency a ‘desirable’ or ‘acceptable’ place to work.”
“This job isn’t for just anybody,” Moore said. “You gotta kind of have a passion to wanna do this line of work.”
Unique to Pittsburg, the department has been trying to keep up with it’s own growth. Officials say the city’s public safety sales tax passed in 2013 funded at least 15 new positions through the department.
“It is funding basically a 25-percent increase in our staffing,” Narges said. “Where we’ve seen increased patrol division, out narcotics unit, along with communications. These are the most sworn positions we’ve ever had in our agency.”
Narges said the issue is not just a matter of having more positions. He says says there’s been a significant decrease in the amount of applicants.
“I remember back 20 years ago when I was going through the hiring process. The initial written exam, I remember looking around the room and seeing about 50 other applicants,” Narges said. “Today, we’re lucky to see 10 individuals testing at any given time.”
“A lot of people see a lot of the negative aspects of our job,” Moore said. “But there’s a lot more positives that outweigh the negatives.”
Unused funds from the city’s Public Safety Sales Tax go into the city’s general fund.