AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Local law enforcement agencies are actively recruiting officers and employees, but struggling to hire.
Sgt. Carla Burr with the Amarillo Police Department said they are ten officers short of what they are authorized to have on their staff.
“We want to find good people to come work for us and, you know, unfortunately, we’re having to try new things. Because the old days of just people walking in our front door don’t happen,” Sgt. Burr said. “You have to market yourself, and so that’s what we’re trying to do by making ourselves available in non-traditional ways.”
She said they have put up billboards, updated their websites, and they go to job fairs.
Sgt. Burr said APD will be at the Downtown Public Library on Tuesday, July 12 from 5-7 p.m., and again on Saturday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We’re gonna have recruiters out there. They’ll be available for people to come and visit and talk about, you know, any question you have law enforcement related,” said Sgt. Burr. “If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, something you want to know more about, ‘Is this the right fit for me? Is Amarillo the right place for me?’ Whatever it is, we’re going to be there.”
She said APD has competitive pay based on the cost of living in Amarillo.
“it’s a good salary, plus all the benefits that you get that go along with it, like paid vacation, paid holiday leave, and we get a nice holiday leave,” she said. “You know, better pay for being bilingual, better pay for working like evenings or midnights because that takes you away from your family.”
Sgt. Burr also said they always need people on the civilian side of APD.
For the Potter and Randall County Sheriff’s offices, they say it is hard to compete with the pay of some other industries.
“There’s more jobs than there are people right now, you know. Amarillo historically has a very low unemployment rate and because of that, it just makes it tough to find those people to recruit,” said Chief Deputy Hank Blanchard with the Randall County Sheriff’s Office.
Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas said they need nurses, corrections officers, and people on patrol.
“Since I started 13 years ago, we’d try to take the people that have gone through the academy and those kinds of things, and worked in the jail all that time, we’ll promote them and move them to the field,” he said. “But I’m out of people. I mean, we’re actually having to hire people from outside to come and be a police officer. And that’s just started over the last year and a half.”
The salary budgets for both sheriff’s offices are made by their county judges and commissions, and they are looking into cost of living to make sure people are paid well for their work.
“Part of our problem is not so much recruiting. It’s retention,” said Blanchard. “People get in not really knowing what to expect and they get in, especially on our correction side working in our jail. They’ll get in and they don’t really understand what it’s going to be like when they get back there. And so they they see something that pays a little more and they’ll leave for that.”
“I think part of the problem is everybody thinks they see what happens nationally with police and how everybody hates the police. Well, we don’t have that problem here,” Sheriff Thomas said. “You know, we’re very, very fortunate that the people in the Panhandle love our police and love what we do, and have we had the support of them.”
Blanchard said law enforcement is a tough career, but well worth it.
“It’s a wonderful place to be. You get to help people that are truly in need,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in law enforcement that’s tough. But it is when you get to help somebody that truly needs help, it’s as rewarding as anything I’ve ever done in my life.”