I travel the state frequently and interact with numerous agencies and their members from administrators to rookies.
While many agencies are different in how they look and maybe their mission they all share the same dilemma today which is recruitment. I hear the same complaints about the inability to attract quality candidates and especially an ethnically diverse candidate pool.
We could debate for hours the reasons for the inability to attract good people and especially people of diverse backgrounds. The fact is that many reasons exist one of which is the good economy and low unemployment rate and the other is the decline of benefits and pay. I am not even discussing the negativity that exists in the media with regard to the police profession.
We need to discuss those issues and resolve them, however, we must realize first the crisis that is before us. Over 60% of the police officers in our state are over the age of 40. That means that those officers are eligible to retire soon if not now and they are exercising their retirement options as soon as they become eligible. That number suggests to me that we will be facing a continual drain of experienced mature officers for the next decade at least. Even if the profession was attracting a large number of quality candidates they are still young with no one of significant experience to train and mentor them.
The need is never been more great than now for hiring mature candidates. We need to find a way to bring members of the community who would join the profession if they could afford the academy and afford the 18 weeks of not working while at the academy. That is very difficult to do with someone who has other responsibilities at home.
Having been a City Manager I had to prioritize and allocate funds to the most serious of issues first. I contend that this is that serious and we as communities must find the funding to recruit and pay for the type of quality person we want and need for our respective agencies. It is time that this goes to the top of the list and other issues take a back seat. Otherwise the large payout for liability for poor decisions made by inexperienced officers is the outcome.