BIRMINGHAM, AL – Police departments across the country are facing shortages, The nationwide trend is hitting close to home in major departments like Birmingham.
The police department needs more than a few good men and women. Just last week Chief A.C. Roper mentioned at a town hall meeting they needed to fill more than 100 vacancies.
“We don’t have a lot of officers leaving law-enforcement to go do other things. What we have is officers getting eligible to retire and going to other municipalities,” explained Sgt. Heath Boackle, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1.
He said the other municipalities can benefit from officer coming out of Birmingham because they’re well trained and it’s one less thing that department will have to pay for.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over the next decade this profession would see a slower than average growth of only four percent.
Boackle said there are a number of factors including money, retirement and the current climate of our country.
He said the younger generation isn’t going into law enforcement as much as in years past.
“Social media have put so many things from a law enforcement perspective out there. Law enforcement is the one profession more so than any that is judged on everything in social media.”
He said this could impact public safety. Boackle said the only way to keep officers is to get a decent cost of living raise for city employees and to reinstate longevity pay.
“If you really look at the call for service now today compared to 20 years ago… that’s where we need the boots on the ground. We are short. We do want people to apply to any police department where ever you decide to go and make a difference. It’s really being based on calls for service and for some people it comes down to pay,” explained Boackle.
Not every department in our area is facing this same reality. Bessemer Police Department is five officers away from a full force.
Hoover PD has about 167 sworn officers, the highest the department has seen in recent years.