The department has signed the National 30×30 Commitment, which pledges that 30% of the department will be made up of female officers by 2030.
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – It’s no secret that the work of a police officer involves many risks.
Lt. Bruce Barnes of the Noblesville Police Department said the work also comes with many rewards. That’s why he hopes more Hoosiers will consider joining his agency.
“We appreciate the work we do,” Barnes said. “We love the work we do.”
Currently, the department of approximately 100 officers protects the community of Noblesville day and night. Staffing on the streets, however, can mean officers work harder and longer, with fewer new officers coming through the door.
Sergeant April Kline has worked for the Noblesville Police Department for 12 years.
“I work nights now, so we work from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.,” Kline said.
Kline said he has noticed improvements in recruiting in recent years, despite the national challenge.
“Recruiting for this profession, in general, has certainly been difficult,” Kline said.
Barnes said the recent tweaks already underway were still not enough.
“We’re looking, right now, at everything that’s going on, and what maybe we can do to adapt and adjust,” Barnes said.
Some of these changes now focus on hiring more female officers.
“I think it better represents our community, because obviously our community is made up of both men and women,” Kline said.
“Nationally, about 12 to 14 percent of an agency will be women,” Barnes said. “It’s no different here at the Noblesville Police Department.”
Barnes said of the 96 officers employed at the Noblesville Police Department, only eight are women.
This is why the department signed the national 30×30 commitment, which commits 30% of the department to be made up of female officers by 2030.
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“We actually have, for the very first time, a third of our shift made up of women, which is pretty awesome,” Kline said. “As for the 30×30, we’re at it during our shift.”
Other changes to the department include moving away from old ways of thinking about small things, like tattoos.
“Tattoos were banned for a very long time,” Barnes said. “You cannot wear a visible tattoo.”
A new policy for NPD allows officers to have tattoos except on the face, neck and hands, according to Barnes.
Another change to the department allows beards for male officers, which was also previously prohibited.
“Our agency has decided that maybe it’s time to adopt a policy that allows beards to come, again, not without restrictions,” Barnes said.
“It’s just one of those things that maybe 10 or 20 years ago we never would have thought was going to be an issue that we would have to deal with, but if that means opening up more opportunities or cast a wider net, that’s what we’ll do at this point,” Barnes added.
NDP leaders have made it clear that loosening some restrictions does not mean lowering the expectations of a potential officer.
“We need communities to know that we’re not necessarily lowering our standards to attract more people,” Barnes said. “We have a shortage of applicants. We don’t lack officers who are on the street.”
This means that current officers will work overtime to fill gaps in the department.
“There was a time and a day when we would expect an officer to spend 20 years in an agency,” Barnes said. “It’s different now.”
Law enforcement officials say there are several reasons why citizens are less interested in joining or staying in the police.
“The reality is that this job is not without risk,” Barnes said.
Barnes said the biggest recruiting challenge can often be the job itself.
“We have to be right 100% of the time, and that in itself is a very daunting task,” Barnes said. “A lot of the decisions and the work that we do, it’s tense. It’s uncertain, and it’s changing quickly.”
Indiana State can hire new officers between the ages of 21 and 39, with some exceptions.
The state also has certain hiring requirements that won’t change locally, including physical fitness testing, written exams, and a background investigation.
Despite the risk of the job, these officers say wearing the badge is often very rewarding.
“It’s a sense of pride that very few jobs come with,” Barnes said. “I can’t begin to tell you what it looks like, so I can take it with you.”
“After 12 years of doing this job, to be able to say that I still love my job and still enjoy coming to work every day is pretty huge,” Kline said.
Kline credits the Noblesville Police Department for preparing her for the reality of policing and giving her the confidence to do the job.
“Obviously when you first take the plunge you might be a little nervous, feeling like ‘I don’t know what a policeman does’, but by the time you’re done and hit the road, you’re totally ready to do what you have to do,” Kline said.
RELATED: Citizens Police Academy Returning to Noblesville This Fall
Barnes says the training process for new officers is detailed, with 16 weeks at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. After graduating from the academy, recruits have four to six weeks of additional local training, followed by 16 weeks of field training.
“For 16 weeks they ride with a veteran officer learning to do the job,” Barnes said.
Barnes said realistic training can be crucial in preparing officers.
“We think we’re doing a really good job here,” Barnes said, “and we hope that’s enough to encourage people to trust us and believe that if you come to our department we’ll provide it to you. doubt, come in now. We will be more than happy to show it to you.
The Noblesville Police Department encourages anyone interested in learning more about policing to stop by the service or contact via social media.
NPD is also offering a free Citizen Police Academy this fall.
Barnes also encourages residents to say hello to officers in the community and ask them to share a story about their experience working for the Noblesville Police Department.