Fewer people want to police our streets. That’s what the area’s biggest law enforcement agencies are saying.
Mike Mazzeo, President of the Rochester Police Locust Club, said in a Tweet earlier this month, that the number of police recruits is dropping. The last test yield was 800, with about 400 passing. Just 15 years ago, there were more than 3,500 applying for positions in road patrol, corrections, and other areas. He’s calling it a crisis.
“It’s a problem for hiring and retention,” says Mazzeo.
But it’s not limited to Rochester. “This is happening all over the county,” he adds.
Chief La’Ron Singletary with the Rochester Police Department agrees that declining recruitment is a national trend, as does Sgt. Matt Kreuzer who works for Training, Background & Recruitment with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “Fewer people are taking the tests,” says Kreuzer.
Kreuzer says in 2009, they had 1,250 people take police tests for the city and county. In 2017, that number slipped to 1,177. The biggest dip was for the corrections field. In 2013, 1,300 people took that test… last year, only 552 took it. But why the drop?
“I think the negative perception in media when they post some of these things online really hurt us,” says Kreuzer, who was speaking largely on the rapid-fire posting of videos that don’t always have the proper context.
Also, with a better economy, the private sector might be offering more appetizing pay and benefits. But Mazzeo says those are not typically issues for police in the region.
“We’re seeing very good pay, outstanding benefits,” says Mazzeo.
Retirements are also an issue. Last year, Mazzeo says there were 40 retirements, and only 25 new people were hired. This year alone they’ve had ten retirements. He says you have to over hire to keep pace with departures.
So, has this impacted the RPD’s ability to fill open positions? It’s unclear. Mazzeo says when people retire, the department has leaned on overtime rather than replacing them, which might be more a monetary decision than one based on the candidate pool.
On the MCSO side of the house, Kreuzer says there are plenty of solid opportunities waiting. “If someone’s interested in it, they should definitely reach out to us.” For more information on joining the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, you can call (585)-753-4705/4706, or email firstname.lastname@example.org