EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding remembers when the interest to join local law enforcement was high.
“I can remember back to two years ago when we would have to rent space at the University of Southern Indiana just to get people in to take the test,” said Sheriff Wedding.
Times have changed, and he says there isn’t nearly the same interest in the profession.
“Anywhere from 300-500 at minimum signed up, versus now maybe 100,” stated Sheriff Wedding.
Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin says their numbers have remained consistently low as well, with just 205 applicants in 2020. In 2019, only 202 applied.
“Winning people over personally, it’s educating people, talking to anybody who wants to talk. 2020 has been really hard on us for doing a lot of that because COVID had us all apart,” explained Chief Bolin.
Chief Bolin says after speaking with other chiefs across the country, he believes it’s a problem happening at many departments like EPD. 14 News asked him why he believes this is happening.
“Just the distrust of police officers, people that don’t want to be a part of us, or that look at us in a different light,” explained Chief Bolin. “We definitely need more minorities, and when I say minorities, not just African-Americans, but females, Latinos. We’re not representative of our community as a whole yet, and that’s what we would love to see, is a true representation.”
Chief Bolin says, ideally, he’d like to see their percentage of African American officers jump from 6 or 7% to over 13%, and for their percentage of females officers to be above 35%.
Sheriff Wedding says his deputies are committed to the safety of Vanderburgh County. He hopes that their work might inspire others to apply.
“We would like our community to trust our law enforcement and that we are out there because we care about our community,” shared Sheriff Wedding. “And we love our community, and our number one goal is to protect the community that we live in.”