How Columbus police plan to fill over 100 vacant positions
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - With violent crime on the rise in the Fountain City, Columbus police continue their efforts to add more officers to their ranks. At any given time the department is trying to fill as many as 130 vacancies. But they are taking new approaches to hiring, even looking at recruiting people straight out of high school.
It’s no secret. Across the nation, every single industry is being impacted by staffing shortages including law enforcement.
“We fluctuate just like anybody else,” said Columbus Police Department’s Assistant Chief of Administration Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick. “We fluctuate between 120, 130 vacancies.”
And Columbus isn’t just competing against other local businesses - they’re also up against other police departments who are also looking to fill their shrinking ranks. Atlanta suburb - Gwinnett County’s Police Department - is holding a hiring event in the Fountain City March 4 and 5, saying on their Facebook page that it’s offering a $2,000 hiring incentive.
Many feel the increasing crime numbers in the fountain city could be partially blamed on the need for more officers. Columbus residents say such shortages have contributed to long police response times.
But Assistant Chief Joyce Dent-Fitz Patrick says citizens can help. In November, the agency began implementing an online self-reporting program for crimes that don’t require immediate responses.
“If it’s of a magnitude that requires a follow up, we have several officers who vet those to send them to the detectives or send them back to patrol,” said Dent-Fitzpatrick.
She says they’re also stepping up their hiring efforts with more advertisements, traveling out-of-state or going to military installations to recruit more officers and even hiring high school graduates.
“We’re going to be able to have cadets and those are the 18 to 20 year olds and we’re going to the high schools and talking to them and talking up our program,” said Dent-Fitzpatrick.
Like other employers, CPD is also offering competitive incentives including a sign on bonus and higher pay depending on an applicant’s education level.
“If you come in with a high school degree, you can make right at 40, almost $40,000 plus,” said Dent-Fitzpatrick. “Once you attain associate’s degree, you get another bump in pay.”
Columbus Police Department will host their next hiring event Saturday here from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Gwinnet County Police Department will also be visiting the Fountain City in March to recruit officers.
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