May 6, 2021 - News

Iowa police agencies face a recruitment crunch

Illustration of a police uniform standing with no person inside it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Metro law enforcement agencies are struggling to recruit officers, department officials told Axios.

What's happening: Some agencies across the state have chosen not to hire due to a lack of quality candidates, Iowa Law Enforcement Academy director Judy Bradshaw told Axios.

The state of play: The Des Moines Police Department closed the application process last week for a new class of recruits and got about 300 applicants, roughly 50% fewer than a year ago.

  • The Polk County Sheriff typically gets a couple hundred applicants for deputy positions — but recently received just over 50.

The big picture: It’s a widespread problem that has left hundreds of police vacancies in places like Philadelphia, Louisville, New York and Portland.

  • A $10,000 police sign-on bonus was approved last month in Clovis, a California city about half the size of DSM.

What's next: Polk County Sheriff officials have discussed sign-on bonus ideas but have not formalized any proposals, which would need approval from county supervisors, Lt. Ryan Evans told Axios.

  • Training academy classes for the next group of DMPD officers starts this fall. Department officials are unsure if they will have enough qualified candidates who complete training to fill all the jobs.

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