A number of metro police agencies are looking for recruits but report having a tough time finding qualified applicants.
As some police agencies face defunding or cutbacks, the Oklahoma City Police Department has one of the largest budgets in history, and with that, comes new challenges.
The department introduced its 143rd academy Friday. The 25 recruits will face 28 weeks of training before they train in the field.
“That’s going to include mental health training, de-escalation, control and defense tactics,” Oklahoma City Police Department Sgt. Megan Morgan said. “It’s going to include training in driving and firearms.”
Morgan said not all the recruits will make it through the process, but the ones who complete the academy will fill part of the department's need for new officers.
An unusually high number of officers recently retired, which left more than 150 open positions. The city council also approved a budget increase.
“They also approved unfreezing several positions that were previously frozen,” Morgan said.
Just south of Oklahoma City along Interstate 35, other agencies are also looking for new faces.
“We’re adding six new positions,” Moore Police Department Lt. Kyle Johnson said. “And likely to add more in the future.”
In the past, Johnson said open positions would draw hundreds of applicants, but those numbers have dwindled greatly.
“I definitely think it’s the tension in society,” Johnson said. “The changes and transition in law enforcement, some of the unknowns.”
More than ever, Johnson said they need applicants who have a heart to serve their communities.
“If you’re considering this field, this line of work,” Johnson said. “One, do it for the right reason. If you get into this profession for the paycheck, you’re not going to last.”
Most agencies are offering higher pay than in the past. Officials also want applicants to be prepared for an extensive background check.