LANSING, Mich. (WILX) — With crime on the rise, police departments in Mid-Michigan are doing everything they can to crack down on crime.
As police numbers dwindle and fewer people enter the force, local departments are struggling to recruit new officers. Now, more departments are paying their new assistants through training. Ingham County may be the next county to do so through Lansing Community College.
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News 10 spoke with Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich about why he thinks this could make the community safer. Reich remembers a time when he received hundreds of applications for each job posting.
“Now we have one or two and they have to go through the process,” Reich said.
In trying to find candidates, Sheriff Reich said it was every department for itself, and when they did find them, all was not said and done.
“They need to be questioned,” Reach said. “They have to pass psychological tests, physical fitness tests before they are even accepted to hit the road.”
Now departments like Eaton County are hiring smarter, not harder. To get new faces on the force, Eaton County paid potential deputies through the academy.
Meanwhile, Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said they would do the same.
“Not only are we paying their tuition,” Wriggelsworth said. “They are paid to go to school in order to get an education and when they get out they can go straight to the streets.”
Wriggelsworth said paying students through the academy removes the barrier that prevents some from entering the force and losing potential police officers isn’t something most departments can afford. In 2023, the Sheriff said he will need to fill at least 12 positions from retirement and he thinks it will be difficult without programs like this.
“They would be our employees but would still have some training to do before they hit the streets and do the job,” Wriggelsworth said.
Wriggelsworth and Reich told News 10 they hoped it would bring in more police.
“Of course, you can sit in the office eight hours a day and watch on the computer and do everything that way,” Reich said. “But being in a police car and being outdoors and meeting people, talking to people, solving crimes and putting bad guys in jail. It is rewarding.
The Ingham County Sheriff will launch the program in early 2023. Students would be trained through the Mid-Michigan Police Academy at Lansing Community College.
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