Albany police department sees shortage in recruits -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany police department sees shortage in recruits

January 31, 2006

Albany--The Albany police department is on a mission to attract a few good men and women to protect and serve. But it's having a tough time.

The Albany Police Department says it's experiencing one of its worst police shortages ever. Right now, the department has thirty-seven vacancies for sworn officers. To fill those spots, the department is coming up with some "not-so-typical" marketing strategies, including advertising for its job openings on local radio stations.

"Police departments traditionally have not had to market themselves. There was once people standing in line waiting to get on," says Major William Hooper, with the Albany police department.

But that's not the case anymore, From advertising on the city's access channel to radio ads Hooper says good recruits are hard to come by.

"Before you can get passed certain levels in the rank, you've got to have a four year-degree. It's just the nature of the business now," says Hooper.

"We just don't want any personal, we want qualified personal," says patrolman Andre Thompson. Thompson says the lack of extra help also puts more work on current officers.

"The shortage creates a challenge," says Thompson.

"You have a lot of officers working a lot of overtime, they're not getting as much time with their families as they would like," says Corporal Frank Herndon. Herndon says the job of a police officer is no easy task. A task, many people simply want no part of.

"Maybe they don't like the benefits or maybe they don't think it pays enough," says Herndon.

"You work holidays, you work weekends, you work nights, you know, it's not eight to five," says Hooper.

The salary isn't exactly drawing in new recruits either. Entry level officers start off making slightly more than $25,000 a year.

"We're having to compete against private industry, the big salary they're paying, and the retirement packages that they're paying," says Hooper.

As the department continues to look for ways to entice recruits, officers are optimistic things will improve for them, and the city.

"I think once we get some qualified applicants in here, it's going to get better," says Herndon.

"We're just trying to get as many people in as we can," says Hooper. But until then, the ads will keep playing' on a radio station near you.

In the past, the police department has only recruited new officers within a 90 mile radius of the city. But they're changing that, even looking for new officers in other states now.

The department is also looking into more pay incentives for new recruits and as well as expanding the department's "take home car" program.