Protests and the Pandemic Affect Local Police Recruitment
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A year after racial justice protests and calls for police defunding across the country, some local police departments feel the negative effects of attracting and retaining police officers.
“Because of the anti-police rhetoric that has been infiltrated, through our media as well, it causes people who watch that and listen to that to decide, no, I don’t want to be a police officer,” says Sergeant Evie West with the Cleveland Police Department.
Sergeant West says the Cleveland Police Department has at times had a difficult time recruiting officers, especially minorities.
And they are an accredited police department which means stricter hiring requirements.
Another local police department has a different experience in recruiting.
The Collegedale Police Department is currently looking to hire six police officers.
And they’ve had over 100 applicants so far.
“We’ve got officers applying from Pennsylvania. We’ve got officers applying from Virginia,” says Lieutenant Jamie Heath with the Collegedale Police Department.
There are multiple reasons for the influx of applicants to this particular department.
“Collegedale is still the fastest growing city in this part of the state. And in that we’re adding neighborhoods, we’re adding apartments. And people are coming in wanting a job,” says Heath.
Lieutenant Heath says community support of police is a huge part in recruiting officers.
“The vast majority of people that live work and drive through this area love our police department, love this city, and are extremely appreciative of the job we do,” says Heath.
Sergeant West implores any potential officer candidates to not be discouraged to apply, that victims of crime will also need protection.
“If we don’t fight for them, who will? And so we need to become people that decide, hey, I love my country, I love my community so much I’m willing to die for it,” West says.