PONTIAC (WWJ) – With a waning interest in careers in law enforcement, there are just not enough cops.
That’s the word from Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard who says agencies nationwide, including in metro Detroit, have been struggling with a staffing shortage.
Bouchard told WWJ Newsradio 950 his department has been stretched thin, and they’re looking to fill numerous positions — something that hasn’t been easy to do.
“I think part of it points to, you know, less interest in going into this career,” Bouchard said. “It used to be, statistically, almost 80-plus percent would recommend this as a career for family and friends; and a recent poll came out and north of 80 percent would not anymore.”
“It’s tougher to get the same number of applicants these days that show interest in law enforcement given what’s going on in the world,” he said.
Bouchard said with fewer bodies in the sheriff’s office they’re forced to schedule a lot more overtime.
“When we went through the budget downturn back in 2009 and so, we cut 165 positions, so there was literally no fat anywhere. And when you lose one that’s not a body you can have replaced with somebody that’s, you know, not already dedicated and assigned to something else, so you immediately have to fill it on overtime,” he explained.
And it’s not like he can hire temp workers like so many other businesses would do, the sheriff said, because of state regulations, as well as licensing and background checks necessary to qualify a person to do these jobs.
Bouchard said during big summer events — such as the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Renaissance Festival, on top of recent Amber Alerts and the like — the staffing issue has presented even more of a problem.
“That makes us extremely thin,” the sheriff said. “We didn’t have a car that was running that was still available on that weekend…We were pulled in a lot of directions, and in addition to that we have huge vacancies in the jail from retirement. So I don’t think there was a body that didn’t work, you know, a lot, a lot of extra hours in that week.”
Bouchard said they’ve been casting a wider net in their search for qualified applicants, setting up at recruitment fairs, and reaching out to the public about available jobs through social media.
“Overtime can burn you out and you want people, obviously, sharp and rested and you want them to have a family life, so that’s why we’re moving to aggressively to try to fill those spots,” he said. “Anywhere we can talk to folks we’re trying to encourage them. We’re looking for men and women of character.”
Both full and part-time positions are available in Oakland County. Anyone interested in applying or learning more about these opportunities should visit this link.