Where’d all the cops go?

Less cops, more robbers?

Following a nationwide trend, Washington’s inmate populations at its state prisons and local jails are expanding.

Law enforcement, however, isn’t expanding with it.

In a story in today’s Kitsap Sun, we report that jail capacity is up at our local county lockup, thanks to some proactive planning that left some empty jail beds. However, Kitsap County Corrections’ Chief Ned Newlin says he’ll need to hire 15 to 20 new officers to cover the new space.

But cops are hard to come by these days.

Demand for law enforcement is at an all-time high in the state and nationwide. The state’s department of corrections alone is advertising 900 job openings in all its departments. Scores more are being sought by local municipalities and counties.

“We’re all competing for a dwindling pool of applicants,” Newlin said.

The 2006 Kitsap correction’s officer contract paid about $18.10 an hour, or $37,648 a year to new hires. The scale tops out at $24.27 an hour, or $50,481 a year, Newlin said.

With a living wage salary, then, why is it so hard to find new law enforcement?

A recent Seattle Times story by Sara Jean Green pointed to a ” … strong job market, the war in Iraq and a dwindling number of people interested in law-enforcement careers,” as the culprit for low law enforcement numbers.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Where’d all the cops go?

  1. A ‘cop’ wanted ad could read, “Police Officers wanted.
    The job requires:
    A willingness and understanding that every shift puts your life on the line for a community that, for the most part, does not care.

    The Officer will risk life and limb for little pay, lack of on-going training, mountains of paperwork written to the possibility of being taken to court and challenged.
    Oh yes, and to be regarded with little to no respect.
    Who would not want such a job?

    Our teachers and police officers were once held in the highest respect and regard generating the desire to be in such a profession.
    But now? Why would anyone aspire to such a job?

  2. I forgot to mention the ‘living salary’ seems not enough to die for. The officers work incredible hours, and, unless it has changed…never a permanent shift, adding to the stress of having a ‘regular’ family life.

    The police officer’s spouse is someone I think of as an unpaid officer…and must accept their role as second or third priority after the kids.

    The police office sees things the average citizen doesn’t know exist …people you can’t imagine…

    A police officer is never totally ‘off duty.’… and any emergency can get them called to work… they work at protecting us 24/7.

    Often times they don’t get needed training due to lack of funding.

    Why don’t they get the funding for frequent, ongoing training to help them do the best job for us and increase the odds of them surviving a situation?
    Why… because ‘we’ the taxpayer, say no.

    Being a police office is a lifestyle beyond imagination.

    I hope one day taxpayers will wake up and pay police officers and teachers something close to the responsibility they bear.
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. Ms. O’Hara,

    To you, Ma’am, I can say only this:

    Thank You.

    We do the job not for the pay, not for recognition by the public. We do the job because we care. We care about the community we live in. We care for the good people in our community and protecting them from those who are not. We really do care about Justice.

    In most job interviews for police officer you are asked why you might want the job. The young and naive want to change the world. Call me sentimental, but I still want to go home at the end of my shift knowing that somehow I did something to make a difference in someone elses day. If I stop you for speeding, did it maybe prevent a collision? If I arrest your neighbor, did I possibly prevent your house from being burglarized? When I did a sex offender check, did it prevent your daughter from being mollested? When I consoled you while you knelt over the body of your dead son, did it help? Even a little?

    Being a police officer is unpopular. Victims, witnesses, suspects: no one is really happy to see you. You can’t wait for the public to pat you on the back. You have to go home and know in your heart that you did something today to make a difference, no matter how small.

    Thank you Ms. O’Hara for your insight.

    For others, maybe this will put things in a little perspective. Imagine this: when you wake up in the morning…there will be no police officers, no deputies, no federal agents, no one to enforce any of the laws. What will you now have to do differently. Trust me, you will have to do more than just lock your door at night.

    Thankfully, there are many prayers for policemen. This is just one:

    “A Dying Declaration”

    I worked hard for you
    Put in mornings, days, and nights
    For this was the job I was born to do
    I’m a sworn Police Officer through and through

    I wore my shield proudly upon my chest
    Holstered my weapon
    Shined my boots
    And tightly secured my vest

    The hours were long and
    The paychecks small
    But for the friends I have made
    I would change nothing at all

    I never changed the world
    Now we both know this is true
    But I never thought this would happen Lord
    I was one of the brave in blue

    I lay here
    For the first time the sirens sound so loud
    How can this be happening Lord
    I served my country proud

    I worked hard for you
    How could this be
    I wasn’t suppose to go like this
    He shouldn’t of got the drop on me

    When you fold my flag
    And hand it to my wife
    Tell her I died heroically
    Tell her I lived a good life

    I always upheld the law
    Acted fairly without prejudice
    But now as I go Lord
    I ask that you promise me this

    Tell my girl her daddy is proud
    Allow her to reach the top
    So I can rest peacefully
    Knowing she never became a cop

  4. S Jensen you also get my Thanks and respect. You are so right about having to do more than lock our doors if you all just disappeared. I have great compassion for any person that cares enough to help make life better for so many. You are more appreciated than you know. Even when someone is taken to jail it may have saved their life. Many of those people are grateful. An example the father that was addicted to drugs and the children were so full of fear he would die. Was saved by a trip to jail and sentenced to drug court. Now that father is alive drug free and his children as well as the father are grateful. Kind of odd that story involved a Deputy Jensen. You have a lot to be proud of and you never have to wonder if you have helped. You have. My blessings

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