Because fewer young people in Delaware are considering policing as a profession, police departments are placing a stronger emphasis on recruiting, reports the Wilmington News Journal. “There’s a decrease in applicants in general, and it’s not just a Delaware problem,” said New Castle County police Capt. Laura O’Sullivan. “Twenty years ago you were competing with 1,000 people for 15 spots, and today you certainly have to push harder to get more applicants to come in.”
Some departments have lowered standards because of the smaller applicant pools, like Philadelphia’s, which is about to remove college education requirements. Steps like this have prompted concerns that the quality of officers will suffer over time.
“It’s not really a leap of logic to say down the road you could have a problem,” said Nelson Lim of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, who studies police recruiting for the Rand Corporation. Interest in policing has waned as relationships have soured between cops and residents and as private sector jobs became more abundant with the end of the 2008 recession. Jeffrey Horvath of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Association said nearly every department statewide is facing some kind of recruiting challenge, whether it is attracting enough applicants or enough recruits who match the racial makeup of the area they will patrol. “When I was hired in 1984, I think there were 200 people for two openings. Now you might get 40 or 50,” he said.