EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Evansville Police are experiencing an unusual officer-shortage. It is for reasons unlike anything they have seen in years past.
We sat down with Police Chief Billy Bolin to talk about what is at the root of the growing gap. Chief Bolin showed us the numbers.
This year, EPD is potentially losing 28 officers. That is up from 16 last year and 11 in 2016.
In his decades with the department, Chief Bolin says this is the worst retention rate he has seen, but he says it is not just an Evansville issue.
“I think it’s a nationwide issue, and I don’t really know the reasons,” says Chief Bolin.
Police departments need more officers. Fewer are applying, and fewer are staying on through retirement.
“My generation we took this career. It was a career. We knew we were going to be doing this for 20 something years. I think a lot of people coming in today, they’re going to do this for a few years before they do something else,” says Chief Bolin.
In 2012, EPD received 385 applications. This year, they have 218.
Once accepted, then there is 8-10 months of training.
“When we have unexpected people leave plus we have to do all the backgrounds get medical physical psychological checks, it takes a long time to get back up to speed,” says Chief Bolin.
The number of officers on duty never changes, so more officers are working overtime to make up for open positions. That has meant asking City Council for more money to fund overtime pay.
Meanwhile, Chief Bolin hopes community engagement helps attract new officers.
“All those outreach things we’re doing are part of a combined effort to 1. portray a positive image and 2. encourage people to want to do this to want to support what we do. As far as the officers involved, it’s trying to help get raises, trying to help get better equipment, supporting them,” says Chief Bolin.
After an college internship with EPD, Officer Seth Gorman knew this was his calling.
“I really love the Evansville Police Department, and I really wanted to serve the community because there are a lot of great people here,” says Officer Gorman.
He graduated from the police academy three weeks ago. It is a step in the right direction for Gorman and Evansville Police.
For more information on how to become a Police Officer, visit their website. Of course, you can also stop by Headquarters downtown to pick up or turn in your application.