MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — From patrol officers to dispatchers to school resource officers and more, local law enforcement agencies have been holding hiring events to fill empty spots.

“We’re consistently taking applications as they come. It’s very few and far between,” Columbiana Lt. Sasha Knighten said.

Knighten says they are fully staffed right now with 12 officers but will need two more to meet the city’s growing need. She says it’s hard to compete with what bigger cities can offer new officers.

“The larger departments are offering so much more, more incentives, or a higher pay than what we can. But that has been an issue for us,” Knighten said.

Alabama’s Fraternal Order of Police President Everette Johnson says the state has recently seen a record number of police retirements and resignations.

“It’s almost to the point where agencies are recruiting officers from other agencies to come work for them just so they can have qualified individuals on the street,” Johnson said.

He says smaller departments have been hit hardest. Meanwhile, Dothan Police Capt. Rachel David says they’re fortunate to be fully staffed with 191 offers and plans to add 10 more next year.

She says they’re lucky to have the support of city leaders, who took action when vacancies appeared.

“They’ve all worked really hard over the last year to make sure that our competitive package really was truly competitive, not just in bring home pay but in the totality– retirement, all those things that obviously are enticing to somebody looking to enter a career field,” David said.

Between 2020 and 2021 nationally there was a 45% increase in police retirements and 20% increase in resignations according to the Police Executive Research Forum.