Much like every other industry or business out there, local police departments are trying to overcome a staffing shortage.
Allen Teston, Deputy Chief of Administration, Temple Police Department said, "Being 24 officers down we have felt the crunch."
Commander Robert Rush with the Killeen Police Department said, "So far, sworn police officer positions, we have about 27 vacancies."
Both Temple and Killeen Police are working to change that by expanding their recruiting efforts. Temple PD boosted its social media presence with the help of a recruiting company, Epic Recruiting, which specializes in police recruiting. Temple City Council has also recently approved a raise in the starting pay for officers.
Teston said, "Our starting officers going to the academy are making just over 60,000, and then the city has made allowances for the chief to make laterals or rehires for the department. As job fairs have opened up back up, we have tried to engage in those job fairs beyond our local region too."
Killeen PD bumping up salaries too, with the green light from the Killeen City Council. KPD has also made extensive upgrades to equipment.
"We just transitioned to brand spanking new pistols were in Glocks," said Rush. "We're transitioning to the newest model of Taser available; we're trying to do a whole lot of stuff to keep our talent here."
Even with this push, Dr. Tammy Bracewell Criminal Justice Professor at A&M Central Texas said, vacancies are inevitable.
"It is a lot easier to get people in the door than it is to get people to pass all of the tests," said Bracewell.
Dr. Bracewell said locating certified candidates is also a challenge. The social climate surrounding law enforcement and COVID-19 has all played a role in vacancies seen across the country.
"You're walking into a risky job to where you're risking everything. And given the current social climate, it does make it a less appealing career choice," Bracewell said.
With this in mind, Temple and Killeen police departments are hopeful their efforts will pay off.
"We just graduated on, December 17, 13 cadets from the last police academy. They're in field training now, and 14 new cadets that just started Monday," said Rush.
"We have 11 in our hiring process right now. If we are able to hire all 11 of these and they are towards the tail end of our hiring process so we are starting to feel confident that we can hire them, then we will have 13 positions still vacant," said Teston.