Law Enforcement Recruiters In Kansas Facing Challenges

Law enforcement agencies around Kansas are struggling to recruit new officers, and officials speculate that negative publicity that has accompanied a number of high-profile incidents could be playing a role. But other factors may be playing a bigger role in making recruiting more challenging these days, recruiters say.

“College is so expensive,” Allred said. “You get out of school $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 in debt. ‘What job can I get that will help me pay off my debt?’ ”

Law enforcement positions, which typically start at around $20,000 a year in the Wichita area, won’t be among those jobs, officials say. Graduates looking to pay off college debt will gravitate toward higher-paying careers.

“When you come to work in a law enforcement agency, you’re never going to get rich,” said Sedgwick County sheriff’s Col. Richard Powell, who oversees the department’s training center and firearms range. “You’ll get an honest wage for an honest day’s work and good benefits.”

Connecting with younger people coming out of high school and college is proving to be a struggle for law enforcement recruiters, Crawford County Sheriff Dan Peak said. His brother teaches a criminal justice course at a college in Utah, he said, and a common theme has emerged in conversations with students.

“They anticipate they’re going to graduate and go right in as a detective,” Peak said.

They expect to work 9-to-5 shifts with weekends off, he said.

“ ‘Entitlement’ is the word of the day” for many young applicants, Peak said.

The reality is much different.

For new police officers, deputies, corrections officers and detention deputies, “the very first thing that happens to you is you’re going to go to work nights – late nights,” Powell said. “You’ll get Monday and Tuesday off, and you’re going to be working holidays and miss a lot of family events – birthdays, weddings.”

Read more at The Wichita Eagle.

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