BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Police departments across the country are experiencing staff shortages, and that same challenge hits home for several law enforcement organizations right here in our backyard.
The Birmingham and Tuscaloosa police departments say it’s challenging times recruiting for all jobs right now, especially law enforcement. They say they’re making multiple efforts to bring in the best for our communities.
Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond says the need is great for good police officers not only nationwide but locally.
“All the municipalities are short in our area to some degree whether that be one, two or more than that,” Thurmond said. “Of course, we’re going to be a little bit shorter because we’re in a large organization and so we work hard to continue to recruit to make sure we have enough officers to serve our citizens.”
They’re looking for officers with drive, perseverance and who feel led to selflessly serve their community, like new graduate Darreyon Johnson.
“My grandfather, before he died, told me to never give up,” said Johnson. “He told me to keep going. And I’ve always stood by that — keep going.”
To Johnson, his ambition to serve comes from those he pledges to protect.
“Policing is important to the community,” Johnson said. “We help people. We help them at their lowest points of life. If I can help somebody at their lowest point of life, then I’ll be alright.”
Because new officers can be hard to come by, Chief Thurmond says they work to promote and recruit in a variety of ways.
“Constantly advertising on social media and things of that nature,” Chief Thurmond said. “Also, personnel board advertises as well. Then also we have a recruiting team that goes out to colleges, universities, job fairs, military installations to constantly recruit.”
Tuscaloosa Police Department says it’s incredibly important to them to advertise in ways that get the right message out there and share the truth about the job.
“It is tough, but you know, it’s a service-oriented job,” Assistant Chief Steve Rice said. “It’s one that, you know, you are designed to go out there on people’s worst day and try to make a difference.”
Assistant Chief Rice says even in this challenging market, he believes the future is bright and that there are people out there who will come in with a sense of service mindset.