Nationwide shortage of police officers cause problems for agenci - WNEM TV 5

Nationwide shortage of police officers cause problems for agencies

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A nationwide hiring crisis is hitting police agencies across the nation and departments in Mid-Michigan are no exception.

The number of uniformed officers on the streets across the state have been on the decline since 2001. One of the biggest reasons is fewer people are applying for openings.

"We are short staffed at this point in the city of Saginaw. We cannot operate and function as a standalone police department at this time and I will admit that," Saginaw Police Chief Robert Ruth said.

It's a problem facing the entire country.

"It's so difficult to find police officers now. Every department in our country is hiring right now for police officers. Everybody. The pools are limited and we're all trying to fight in the same pool to gain those resources to come work for us," Ruth said.

He said the problem hindering his department's staffing is the lack of new recruits. He said 20 years ago departments would get as many as 1,500 applicants for one position.

"Now you put out a posting for a position for a police officer and you're lucky to get 100 for us," Ruth said.

Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel said he is facing a different problem. He is losing deputies to neighboring agencies that pay more and offer better benefits.

"I can't do anything about that. That's tough. I lose good deputies every year because there are other agencies like Midland County Sheriff's Office, better benefits, better pay," Federspiel said.

He said wages in his department is a serious drawback for applicants and an issue he hopes the county keeps in mind.

"I'm hiring some part time deputies at $10 an hour, to carry a gun and protect people. Ten bucks an hour. That's unacceptable," Federspiel said.

Even with pay out of the equation, Ruth said there's still a problem with perception.

"Right now, it's not cool to be a cop. It just isn't. With everything that's going on in the media across the United States, it's just not cool to be a cop. And a lot of kids don't want to do it," Ruth said.

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