Monday, October 24, 2016

State police departments seeing a shortage of applicants; low pay one reason

State police in Washington are among the
state's lowest paid officers (Stateline graphic)
Many state police departments are struggling to staff positions, Sarah Breitenbach reports for Stateline. "It’s a problem that state police departments—which patrol highways, assist local officers, and serve as the only law enforcement in some rural areas—are facing across the country. A combination of low pay, baby-boom retirements and recruitment troubles has left state police departments short of manpower." Staffing shortages are leading to large sections of rural highways going unpatrolled.

"Beyond salaries, continuously tight budgets across many states can take a toll on troopers’ morale," Breitenbach writes. "Outdated equipment, the disappearance of fringe benefits like cellphone allowances, and the demand for overtime work in exchange for comp days that they may not even have time to take have convinced many officers to head for the exits."

"Attracting replacements is increasingly difficult as recruits favor the many municipal police departments that pay more than their state counterparts," Breitenbach writes. In Virginia, for example, state police applications were down 50 percent between February to August, with only 31 percent of applicants actually showing up for testing.

One theory for fewer applicants is rising tensions between police and community members, Breitenbach writes. Another reason could be that it can take up to a year to hire a new officer—including tests and training—while other professions can hire much more quickly.

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