SHAKER HEIGHTS — Across the U.S., law enforcement agencies are struggling to hire new recruits and so are departments in Northeast Ohio, leading to agencies becoming creative with their hiring.
With lots of retirements and some just leaving the industry, many departments are in need of staff including Shaker Heights Police Department.
“I think we're somewhere in the ballpark of probably six to eight positions immediately,” said Sergeant Tim Grafton of Shaker Heights Police.
Mentor Police Department is also in the same predicament.
"I’m looking to hire probably with this test three to five officers,” said Chief Ken Gunsch with Mentor police.
Gunsch says the number of applications they're getting is far fewer than years ago.
“It does seem harder. The number of candidates that typically we would get in past years is dramatically decreased,” said Gunsch.
It’s something departments are seeing across the nation, the International Association of Chiefs of police reports, 75% say recruiting is more difficult today than 5 years ago and 78 % of police departments have difficulty recruiting qualified candidates.
Blaming it on few reasons:
-A generation difference, where the force isn't appealing to millennials and gen-z,
-Hiring process challenges: including not being able to pass a background check
-and public image
“There's a tremendous number of reasons stories that you hear nationally as it relates to police work, but I think the most important part is that we here in Shaker Heights, we maintain an excellent work,” said Chief Gunsch.
In Shaker Heights, Sergeant Tim Grafton says the department wants to maintain its high standards for officers and it's a quality the public appreciates.
In order to get recruits in the door, these departments are banking on creative outreach efforts, including social media posts, billboards and some extra money.
“One of the things we've instituted as a hiring bonus, and there's a $4,000 hiring bonus,” said Sergeant Grafton.
But more importantly, they want to see more men and women who love to protect and serve their community.
“It’s about helping people. It's truly about interacting with the community. Enforcement is there. It's always going to be there,” said Chief Gunsch.
It also gives departments an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer.
“It gives us the opportunity to introduce law enforcement to those who are not familiar with it and for those who are to give them an understanding that this is a great place to work,” said Sergeant Grafton.
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