TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Police departments across the country are facing staffing shortages, and it’s no different in Alabama. From fears of risks in the line of duty to societal views on police, departments are facing even more hurdles trying to get officers in the door.
“There’s no doubt that it’s a dangerous job, you can’t hide that,” said sergeant Devon Nichols, a recruiting officer at the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
The TPD said it’s down about 30 officers from around the 280 it needs to be fully staffed. Nichols said in the last five years, the department has had to actually recruit more than ever.
“Back in the day, there would be hundreds of people at a test,” Nichols said. “Now, it’s 20. So, if that gives you an idea. We have to reach out more, we have to engage more.”
The TPD said it offers some of the most training for officers in the state to make sure everyone knows how to protect themselves and everyone else on the street.
“We know that some people aren’t cut out for it, and that’s OK,” Nichols said. “But if you are, we’ll train you to the best of our ability to keep you safe on the street.”
Many of the prospective recruits at Thursday’s job fair said they want to be a cop to give back to the community. Some recruits at the TPD job fair said the death of Huntsville officer Garrett Crumby on Tuesday afternoon has not scared them away from the job.
“My wife is telling me all the time about a shooting happened here or something happened here, and my kids are in public school,” said Christopher Agee, a prospective police recruit. “Protect my home and my family but you know, if you can get out there and protect brothers and sisters, that’s what the goal is, right?”