Police departments make aggressive push for new recruits

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(NewsNation) — America’s streets are running wild with crime and violence, and police departments are having a hard time maintaining law and order.

Murders are up, assaults are rampant and robberies are through the roof, prompting fed-up, unappreciated and overwhelmed officers to leave the force by the thousands. Low pay, long hours and poor morale have created a manpower deficit that’s become extremely hard to overcome.

Yolanda Talley is chief of the Chicago Police Department’s bureau of internal affairs and the recruitment and retention unit. She said the current shortage isn’t like others in the past, which have typically been on a smaller scale and not as long.

She said the department has lost 1,000 officers in the last year, mostly to retirement. Veteran officers say if they’re not valued and appreciated, they’d rather leave the job than stay and serve where they’re not wanted.

“One of the common complaints about why officers are retiring or resigning is that new practices and procedures are changing the way police officers do their job,” Talley said.

Many are leaving and few are willing to fill those open vacancies. Across the country, police departments are now using incentives and innovative ways to attract potential cadets.

America’s largest police department, in New York City, is among those using slick recruitment campaigns to fill the 1,500 vacancies from this year alone. In New Haven, Connecticut, police are making a bold move, going door to door looking for potential recruits.

And to the west in Phoenix, the department is boosting its starting salary to $68,000 from $55,000 and offering a $7,500 signing bonus. 

“We have been very successful in getting the recruitment numbers up,” said Sgt. Brian Bower of the Phoenix Police Departmentt. “Each month is getting better and better with the potential recruits.”

In Chicago, the department has branched out its recruiting efforts from beyond the city limits to military bases. A total of 20 service members have been recruited from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Camp Pendleton in California.

Sgt. Nathaniel Myles is a 13-year veteran with the Chicago Police Department and a Marine Corps veteran, leading the charge to recruit service members.

“This is a paramilitary organization … so you guys understand that discipline, rank structure, you guys understand what it’s like to perform under pressure,” Myles said of the pitch to military recruits.

For critics who contend it’s a dangerous idea to turn soldiers into officers, Myles disagrees.

“I can understand how people can see that — military, overseas, deployment, war. But it’s not always like that,” he said.

The Chicago Police Department is also recruiting at Black colleges and universities to include more diversity, mirroring more of what communities look like.

One of those schools, Lincoln University in Missouri, has started a law enforcement training academy, making it a very attractive recruiting location for police departments from around the nation.

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