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Law Enforcement Agencies Stepping Up Recruitment Efforts As Vacancies Pile Up

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- Behind the badge, the struggle is real when it comes to recruitment.

It's an industry-wide trend that law enforcement agencies are facing.

"It's harder to recruit," said Rod Grassman with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.

That's the reality. At one point a couple of months ago, the department was down 100 positions - nearly 10 percent of sworn deputies. That's double the vacancies they usually have.

"We certainly have had many retirements," Grassman said.

The protests and civil unrest of 2020 didn't help.

"Certainly, when people are getting an anti-police message, that's going to have some sort of effect on people's interest in wanting to do this job," he said.

The pandemic also posed an issue.

"Where we normally have these large cohorts of people where we meet and walk them through the process, we haven't been able to do that in COVID - and it's much harder to do that on Zoom," Grassman said.

Lt. Matt Owens, who oversees the academy, says it's also a long process.

"People come in and learn everything from how to drive a car fast and correct it out of a turn, shoot guns, to ... learning criminal law, constitutional law," said Owens.

From the time they put their application in to the time they get to the academy, it could be 15 months. And people are vetted carefully.

"Whether there be filling out an application or doing a personal history background, which can be 80 pages of anything you've ever done wrong in our life," said Grassman.

Statistics from the sheriff's office show less than a third graduate - and now there is a new issue: competition between agencies.

"I've heard some departments were even giving their recruits in the academy money bonuses for recruiting somebody else out of the academy into their agency. So it's pretty aggressive out there right now," said Assistant Deputy Chief Paul Doroshov with the Davis Police Department.

The Davis Police Department offers a very lucrative compensation package, and yet they too have positions open.

"We are one of the top in the area, but it's still a struggle these days," said Doroshov.

The last graduating class brought the number of vacancies inside the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office down to 80. They hope to fill 36 more positions with the academy graduating this month, bringing the number of vacancies in line with what is typical for their department.

But more retirements mean more recruiting.

"I think that as we get that message out, we can talk to those people about their desire to help the community. We can foster an excitement to come into this profession," said Grassman.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office is now targeting its marketing and recruiting efforts to social media.

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