PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Police departments are having a tough time attracting recruits.
After several high profile incidents across the country, the image of police officers has taken a hit. Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck says there’s no doubt that is scaring people away from going into the profession.
“Do I want to get involved in that, with all the scrutiny that’s happening across the country? And some people I think are saying no”, he said.
Highly publicized incidents across the country, including the shootings of black men by white officers, have tarnished that image.
“We haven’t done ourselves a favor in some of those instances. Certainly not all of them. But there are certainly instances out there where officers are making mistakes and they’re making immoral, unethical and criminal decisions in some instances”, Chief Sauschuck said.
When Sauschuck became an officer, the city tested new recruits once a year. Now he says testing is done year round, just to find quality candidates. With competition stiff to lure those candidates, the Portland Police department is now offering a $10,000 signing bonus.
With current openings and members on leave, the Portland force will be down more than twenty officers this summer. The chief says he’s concerned about the strain that will put on current employees. Besides the promise of bonus money, he’s hoping there are still people out there who have a calling for public service.
“Every single day the officers in this community are helping people and that’s a big deal. It really is a sacred responsibility. It’s an honor and privilege to have that”, he said.
The money won’t be paid out in a lump sum, it will be staggered. $2500 after the recruit is sworn in, another $2500 after the recruit goes through the academy training program and the final $5,000 would be paid off after a two year probationary period.