Connecticut has nearly 800 law enforcement jobs up for grabs, which means hundreds of unfilled positions and potential public safety consequences.
According to PoliceApp.com President Sean Cassidy, cities like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven have around 100 open positions each.
Empty positions can be found in local, state and federal agencies. The Connecticut State Police, for example, currently has between 200 and 300 vacancies.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have dealt with understaffing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and various sociopolitical changes that have taken place.
While many other industries have been negatively affected by the pandemic, law enforcement agencies have had to weather attempts to defund their budgets in addition to the pandemic.
The dangerous nature of the job and low pay are also contributing to more retirements and resignations and are taking their toll on recruitment efforts as well.
Middletown Police Chief Erik Costa is looking to recruit 10 to 15 new officers to boost patrol and crack down on drug dealers in the city, but it’s hard to convince potential candidates to apply.
“It’s a serious job that asks for serious people. People sometimes see the violence going up, the crime rate going up,” Costa told WFSB 3.
Middletown resident Wayne Roget said the anti-police climate is negatively affecting recruitment.
“They think is it even worth it. Sometimes people are very hostile toward them,” Roget said.
Costa said that he believes pay and the public’s attitude towards the profession are major reasons behind the shortage.
“Benefits and pay and public scrutiny are the three major reasons for why there’s a struggle to hire police officers,” he explained.
According to Costa, it’s not just the number of applicants but the quality that suffers during a labor shortage.
“Sometimes, the ultimate sacrifice has to be made to protect the greater good. That is the mission of a police officer,” Costa said.
Not everyone is willing to make that sacrifice.
Cassidy said that 95 agencies in the state need to fill six to 15 openings immediately and is calling on any interested candidates to apply.