SBPD continues to deal with staff shortage as some veteran officers retire

NOW: SBPD continues to deal with staff shortage as some veteran officers retire


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Police departments nationwide are experiencing difficulties with staffing, but in South Bend, some officers are leaving faster than the new recruits can be trained. 

The Board of Public Safety retired three 20+ year veteran police officers-- and approved another's resignation-- adding to the need of an already short staffed department. 

“We’re actually about twenty five officers short right now," Chief Scott Ruszkowski told the Board. 

Just last month, eight officers were sworn in and just this week five more officers entered the academy for training-- and one more is transferring from another department.

But the training process takes time. 

Lt. Cathy Fulnecky, from the SBPD's Training and Recruitment Division, said “It takes fifteen weeks and after they graduate, they come back to the police department, they get sworn on, and then they continue their post academy training."

“The new officers take anywhere from a year to up to eighteen months to become street-eligible, or street-worthy,” Chief Ruszkowski added.

And veteran officers are leaving the department. 

“We have a lot of folks that are eligible for retirement,” said Lt. Fulnecky. 

“When you have a resignation or a retirement, those are two weeks’ notice," said Chief Ruszkowski. "So, doing the math, that’s where we start getting the caterpillar effect.”

To help with staffing, the department has shortened the hiring process, raised the starting salary for officers, and plans to host more hiring events. 

“We’re constantly running hiring processes," said Lt. Fulnecky. "Where maybe we’d only run a couple a year, now we’re running several processes a year, so we’re always trying to fill those voids of folks that are retiring.”

Chief Ruszkowski assured members of the Board of Public Safety that despite the staffing shortage, they are still able to work effectively to keep people safe. 

Information for applying for the South Bend Police Department can be found at: Start a Career With SBPD | South Bend Police Department (

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