Police departments struggle to attract applicants

Civil service applications down

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Area police departments are getting ready to give the civil service test to add potential candidates to their rosters.

But several departments said they have noticed a disturbing trend when it comes to the test takers: Fewer people are taking the civil service test than ever before.

In Liberty and Boardman, the applicant pool is down by more than 66 percent. Last year, only about a dozen people qualified as police officers for each department.

That has forced some changes in Boardman. Applicants are now given extra credit for military service, college degrees and police academy certificates.

“My hopes are that we get a good pool of candidates by changing a few things around and we continue on with our hiring program,” Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols said.

Boardman is hoping more people will apply for their test in March. Last year, only 30 people applied to take the test and less than half of them passed. Boardman used to draw 200 applicants.

In Liberty, only 30 people applied to take the test.

“I wish I could tell you I see a strong future for law enforcement but given the current climate right now I don’t see that happening,” Liberty Police Chief Rich Tisone said.

Students are still attending the police academy at Youngstown State University, but once they graduate, they are not applying to become police officers.

“We have noticed a definite decline in the amount of applicants for the job of police officer,” Tisone said. “A lot of young men and women are deciding to go into other career paths instead of law enforcement.”

The chiefs said they can’t pick one reason for the problem. Increased danger for lower pay might be one cause.

“They know they are not going to get a full rate for 15, 20 years. That would definitely be a deterrent to taking this job,” Tisone said.

Minorities and women also have been reluctant to apply.

During a forum last month on diversity on the Youngstown Police Department, former police chief Robert Bush said a lot of young people don’t want to be “stigmatized” by being on the police department.

“So when their parents and grandparents say ‘hey, we don’t have any minorities on the police department,’ those folks don’t want any involvement,” Bush said at the forum.

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