EXCLUSIVE: CPD in dire need of nearly 100 officers, says police chief

EXCLUSIVE: CPD in dire need of nearly 100 officers, says police chief

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Columbus Police Department is looking to hire nearly 100 officers, a number that is continuing to grow.

That’s according to Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren, who says the vacancies are a detriment to your safety. Days before a first-of-its-kind job fair in Columbus, we sat down with him for an exclusive interview.

“We need an adequate number of police officers in Columbus, Ga. to make sure we have a safe community," Chief Boren said. “I could hire 92 officers today and put them to work with the police department."

With numbers that far in the negative for the Columbus Police Department, Chief Boren says they have looked at where they have enough staff to patrol and what services they can cut back on.

“You start seeing officers where the response time gets to be a little delayed," Chief Boren told News Leader 9. “Sooner or later, the things our citizens have always expected of us, we’re not going to be able to do anymore.”

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with public safety. The Columbus Police Department...we had a conversation with them about the need they’ve got to fill, a shortage of officers," Goodwill Industries Southern Rivers President and CEO Jack Warden said.

“Join Today, Protect Tomorrow” is the theme and the hope for Thursday’s job fair at Goodwill’s campus off Macon Road in Columbus.

While Chief Boren and his recruiters also put up new billboards, new ads to find the best applicants, we asked why he thinks there are so many officers leaving the job. He points to a different mentality for younger officers nowadays.

“You’re seeing a pattern that every two, three, four years...they change employment," Chief Boren responded. “There’s a lot of jobs out there. There’s a lot of jobs that are not dangerous jobs.”

Chief Boren admits it is also very competitive between police and sheriff’s departments across the state and nation.

He added, “Everybody in law enforcement are looking for the same pool of applicants."

Officers, who have to be 21 years old to start, often look for the best salary and benefits.

“The beginning police officer in Columbus - at a high school level, with no prior military, that’s not already a certified officer in the state of Georgia - will start at $40,600 a year. That dollar amount goes up depending on your education," Chief Boren explained.

The hiring process to be a police officer can be lengthy, but Goodwill hopes to make it close to a one-stop shop later this week.

“Application process, get the background check started, they can actually arrange and start the physical fitness tests that week, they can do drug testing. There’s a lot of things that normally would take a much longer period of time, all that can be done here on our campus on Thursday," Warden said.

A wide range of Columbus police will be at the hiring event, including demonstrations by the bomb squad, K9 units, and their drone, along with CSU representatives giving state tests, and doctors doing physicals.

“It may open some eyes. It may have people that are out there looking for employment that have never thought about law enforcement," Chief Boren described.

Along with applying for nearly 100 open positions, the job fair will also include fitness competitions and giveaways of electronics.

To find out what you need to bring with you, go to www.goodwillsr.org/cpd or call (706) 256-1837.

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