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Now hiring: Police departments seeing less applicants for open positions

Posted at 11:08 PM, Sep 28, 2020

(WXYZ) — As Detroit police celebrated their newest class of recruits last week, Chief James Craig acknowledged nationally, the process is a challenge.

"Other cities are struggling with even hiring police officers,” Chief Craig said. "We have a full class."

While Craig claims Detroit has had success recruiting, he says the current climate is causing some officers to rethink whether they want their footsteps followed.

“I follow what’s going on around this county," Craig said. "A lot of sitting police officers, given all the challenges that we’re facing today, are saying 'I would not want my child wearing the badge.'”

Right now, there are plenty of job openings at police departments. West Bloomfield police are expecting to have about five openings in the next six months, and are taking to Facebook to look for applicants.

“It's very competitive certainly," said West Bloomfield Deputy Chief of Police Curt Lawson. "We’ve got to make it attractive for candidates to come to West Bloomfield.”

Lawson calls it a free agent market. Instead of recruits competing for openings, it feels more like departments are competing for recruits.

“When I tested for police officer back in 1994, there was 250 people that were taking that test for 3 positions," Lawson said. "Now, we might get 20 candidates.”

He says they’re looking for recruits with college degrees and good communication skills, and are offering better wages, pensions and benefits. He also says they want more diverse recruits to better represent their community.

“We have to do everything we can to reach out, to be able to talk to individuals, especially minorities, and tell them why it’s so important that they join our ranks, that they help us solve the difficulties that we see everyday,” Lawson said.

Like the profession itself, officer recruitment has been a challenge. But while the number of applicants may be going down, Lawson says the standard has to keep going up.

"There's less applicants, and I think there's less qualified applicants," Lawson said. "We have to do ourselves a favor as a profession and we cannot lower our standards.”

For more information on openings in West Bloomfield, click HERE.