South Bend Police Department on track to be fully staffed by summer

NOW: South Bend Police Department on track to be fully staffed by summer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Police departments across the country are having a difficult time hiring officers and have had to ramp up their recruitment efforts over the last few years in order to keep the public safe.

However, police officials at the South Bend Police Department are happy to report that they are looking to be fully staffed with officers by the summer! An upward trend in recruiting they saw in 2022 has them on track to soon be back to pre-Covid staffing numbers.

“The benefit of when you’re fully staffed, you’re not as strained as an individual officer,” says Mayor Mueller.

Being fully staffed hasn’t been possible since July of 2019, which was the one-time high for staffing over the last 10 years.

“We’ve been working hard to build back, and that number is up to 231,” says Chief Dan Skibins about the number of officers on staff. “Unless we have 10-12 individuals suddenly retire between February and March, we’re going to be back at or over that 243 that we had in the summer of 2019.”

It comes months after the department’s lowest numbers in staffing, with just 209 officers this past summer. On top of Covid and other national incidents spiking the resignation rate of police officers nationwide, SBPD has seen officers resign over the last two years also because of the added stress that being understaffed brings.

“We know that we had detectives leave before their 20 years over the last two years, is that based on the caseload that they were receiving? Because we had to downsize our detective bureau?” asks Chief Skibins.

“I’ve seen the physical and psychological stress on these officers that they’re contending with, they take these cases personally, every single one of them,” says Chief of Police Scott Ruszkowski.

Part of the recruitment success coming from the department’s Prospect Days and being able to host their own on-site police academy.

“We discussed with that board, that we are 15-20% down on officers, and even though we’re hiring as fast as they’re leaving, we just can’t build back up, we can’t supply full staffing to our patrol shifts for call response,” Chief Dan Skibins says. “So, it was because of those reasons they allowed us to host our own academy.”

Police officials say although they’re hiring younger officers with less experience going into the academy, between ramping up training and hiring double the number of laterals coming in with experience, it does not concern them that the South Bend Police Department is becoming a ‘younger’ department.

“Do we have fears of becoming a less experienced department with becoming younger? So, we’ve really ramped up our training for 2023 as well as 2022 because we’ve hired so many young officers,” explains Chief Skibins. “We’re bringing in officers with experience from other departments, they require less training to get them out working on the streets.”

SBPD’s next Prospect Day for potential officers is coming up on February 18th, where recruits will have an expedited hiring and onboarding process.

More information: South Bend Police Department Winter Prospect Day

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