LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Not enough police officers to go around. It’s a problem that both Michigan and the entire country is facing right now.
And as law enforcement agencies offer better incentives to recruit, they may be unintentionally taking from other departments.
There are not as many people entering the industry, and current officers are spoiled for choice. “Like any other agency across the state of Michigan or even the nation, we are short on troopers,” said Lieutenant Rene Gonzalez of the Michigan State Police First District.
The effects of the shortage are being felt at every agency in our state. “It’s created a notable shortage on patrol,” said Eaton Rapids Police Chief Larry Weeks
But when it comes to sharing the existing officers, how do these departments handle it? Many times, if they can, they’ll offer things like sign-on bonuses, additional benefits and, in the case of Michigan State Police, an accelerated 12-week recruiting school that’s starting next year. “There are a lot of great experienced officers out there with other departments and agencies. We’d like them to come over, see what we have to offer, and possibly become a trooper,” said Lt. Gonzalez
But with a shortage of officers already, moving from one agency to the next fills one hole, and leaves another. Often at smaller departments like Eaton Rapids, where Police Chief Larry Weeks is having to fill in on night-side patrol coverage. “We just don’t have enough officers to cover all the patrol shifts necessary. We really need a comprehensive approach to how we’re going to deal with this shortage, as opposed to trying to hire other agency’s officers away,” Chief Weeks said.
Chief Weeks tells me, he recently lost an officer, who left for another department’s sign-on bonus. These kinds of incentives have become a method of survival. “We don’t want to lower other agencies numbers, but we want to help our agency as well,” Lt. Gonzalez said.
For Chief Weeks, it’s the long-term solutions that he says are really going to make a difference. “To recruit people that are not currently police officers, let’s find a way to engage those people and get them into this line of work,” Chief Weeks said.