A strong job market, the war in Iraq and a dwindling number of people interested in law-enforcement careers are making things difficult for police recruiters, says the Seattle Times. They must travel to job fairs, community festivals, high schools, and college campuses. It’s all an effort to find recruits amid fierce competition from other police departments and the military – and growing indifference from a new generation of job hunters. The Seattle Police Department, with a sworn force of 1,285, hired 45 officers in 2006, and it expects to hire 80 officers this year. The numbers represent openings due to attrition as well as new positions created by the city since 2005.
“The employment pool has kind of turned into a mist,” said Sgt. Casey Krzyminski of the 21-officer Lake Forest Park Police Department. “People joining the job market don’t seem to want to be cops.” The Iraq war is having an impact because soldiers aren’t being released from duty, stemming the flow of military personnel who often transition to police work. The federal Department of Homeland Security is competing for the same people local police departments are looking to recruit, said Chuck Wexler of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum. Finding people to fill all the law-enforcement job openings “is a national problem –and it’s going from being a national problem to a national crisis,” Wexler said. Wexler suspects a police career isn’t terribly attractive to new college grads trying to pay off enormous student loans. “There’s more of a sense that this generation is more interested in security and quality of life and, quite frankly, the opportunities in the private sector are financially more lucrative,” Wexler said.