Finding a cop when you need one is a problem smaller police agencies are running into. Utica Council President Michael Galime tells us the problem goes beyond the hiring process.
"There’s a multitude of factors where across the nation there’s retention issues with police. You know within my age bracket a lot of that has to do with the fact that overall just people aren’t going in to hands-on type jobs."
Utica Police Chief Mark Williams agrees. He tells us the first obstacle in recruitment is getting the message through to potential candidates.
"Job fair’s don’t cut it anymore when it comes to recruiting police officers. Because of this millennial generation is what we call the electronic generation, they recommend that you create video’s and get on all the social medium platforms that there are."
If a department is lucky enough to recruit a candidate, the challenge then is keeping them. Many officers are finding the job isn’t for them, get better offers in the private sector, and leave for better pay at bigger departments. Losing an officer isn’t just a personal issue, Mark Williams says it cost the department thousands of dollars in training and time.
"It’s a huge loss, and the other thing you’re losing when they go out the door, you’re losing experience, which doesn’t have a cash value to it, but it’s of equal value if not greater having that experience."
Utica also has the challenge of keeping their officers within City limits. All officers must sign a contract that clearly states: “During an employee’s time of service, no such employee shall cease to be a resident of the City.” If an officer willingly lives outside the city limits, they’re in violation of the contract and can be terminated.
Utica Council President Michael Galime tells us not everyone has a problem with the residency clause. "So there’s a lot of different factors. I wouldn’t put it just on the residency. I know a lot of people who live within the city limits who work for the Utica Police Department. They’re happy living here, and they’re proud to live in Utica."
The Chief says while residency is sometimes an issue, the biggest factor is pay. "I think from a local police standpoint our guys are well paid. It’s just that the State Police salaries….you just can’t compete with them."