Local police departments offer hiring incentives amid national police shortage
ELKHART, Ind. -- A shortage of police officers continues both nationally and right here in Michiana. After speaking with local police officers, we did some research and found in 2016, law enforcement fatalities were at their highest in five years with 135 officers killed in the line of duty. That’s just one thing that factors into low recruiting numbers. Elkhart police officers say they’re trying everything they can to get their department fully staffed despite that challenge.
“There’s that national stigma of being a police officer, are you going to be a target of something,” said Sgt. Chris Snyder with the Elkhart Police Dept.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for police is slower than average at only 4%.
Sergeant Snyder says his guys have been feeling the effects of that shortage.
“A lot of it has to do with situations that police officers have put themselves in. To entice people to come here we have to look at that,” said Snyder. He says they’re pulling out all the stops to recruit new and experienced officers to their team.
Elkhart city officers created this recruiting video and posted it to Facebook to get the word out.
“It was officers that work here and have a passion to say ‘we need to get out what we’re doing’ and not only the specialty units and the specialty things that we do here but how we work with the community,” said Snyder.
Their department also proposed an ordinance to the city council to offer a sign-on bonus which was passed Monday night.
“It’s just to help you come here and adjust to things and to maybe help offset some of the stuff that you’re losing by leaving that other agency,” said Snyder.
The department also updated and upgraded its hiring incentives plan, with things like more time off and higher pay to help add experienced officers to their force.
“You’re asking then to uproot their family and bring them here and find new housing and everything so this is just a way that we can kind of help offset some of that cost. [This is all] to help draw people to Elkhart and have them look at what our department is and what we have to offer as opposed to other departments in this area and the country,” said Snyder.
There are currently 124 officers with the Elkhart Police Department but, by budget, they are allowed 136 officers and say they need those extra men and women.
For more information about employment there including the application, wages, and benefits, click here.