We delayed hiring new officers this year (to replace those who have retired). We had another wave of officers leave and we find ourselves about 12 short. We did not hire sooner in order to see where the City and State budget would end up. Running 12 officers short takes a toll. Our community policing efforts have been negatively impacted, our property crimes investigations have been hurt, and our folks are burning out. There is hope on the horizon though. We were authorized last month to fill our vacancies and are in the process of hiring new officers.
About 250 people took our written test in August. Another 70 or so interviewed with staff and community members earlier this month and now we are conducting background checks on about 30 finalists. Backgrounds are probably the most crucial part in the hiring process. We dig and dig to find out the character, work ethic, and personality of the candidate. We frequently contact neighbors, past employers, old boyfriends and girlfriends, check credit history, and leave no stone unturned. Additionally, in depth psychological testing is conducted.
We view the first working year of the officer an extension of the hiring process. They attend the 10 week Duluth Police Academy and then go through extensive training lasting another six months. We closely watch the quality of their work, work ethic, communication and problem solving skills to determine if they are a good fit for our community. About 10-20% of new hires do not make it past their first year.
We anticipate the new officers will be starting in November and will hit the streets later in the winter. We'll be sure to highlight the new officers when they begin.