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DIGGING DEEPER: Recruiting woes for some law enforcement agencies

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Law enforcement agencies around the country are going through challenging times.

As they are under fire from all sides with many officers leaving the force, many are across the nation are wondering how the current conditions are affecting recruitment?

"It's been difficult for a long time," Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said. "In this climate, it's even more difficult."

Kozachik, who represents Ward 6, said with the recent high profile incidents involving use of force, police are coming under intense public scrutiny.

Combine that with the high stress and low pay, Kozachik said this has made finding new officers a challenge.

"People are looking at the profession of law enforcement and saying, 'Why would I want to go into that profession, right now?'" he said.

There are currently 885 sworn police officers. That is 200 down from five years ago. In addition, the more experienced officers are set to retire by the end of the year.

"We could be looking at a significant loss of officers in TPD within the next 12 months," Kozachik said. "We're trying to play catch up but it is a losing battle."

The Pima County Sheriff's Department told the Digging Deeper Team, "We haven't seen the exodus or the large exodus that other departments have seen."

Sgt. Tony Kelly is the recruiting coordinator for PCSD. He said academy classes are full.

He added, due to the pandemic, they have had to move to virtual recruiting.

Kelly said PCSD takes a multifaceted approach to recruiting new deputies.

"Community recruiting, starting with high school, sometimes below. Helping them out," Kelly said. "College recruiting, veteran recruiting."

Despite the challenges that come with the profession, Kelly said the recruits do their homework and know what to expect.

Even though the classes are full, Kelly wants people to know that the department is "always looking for people in the community who have integrity, honor and compassion, and a commitment to make the citizens here of the community better."

Both agencies are continuing their recruitment efforts. They have even expanded their search to recruit officers who may be looking to move on from other departments.

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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