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Local police recruitment numbers down, officials say due to growing animosity towards law enforcement

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - The amount of people choosing law enforcement as a career path is falling. Many departments across the country are seeing less and less applicants. According to two local officers, the same is true in southeast Iowa.

Davis County Sheriff, Dave Davis has been in law enforcement since 1996. He says in his 25 years, he’s never seen this much dis-interest in becoming a police officer.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t even want to get involved in law enforcement just from the way that law enforcement is being treated in some parts of the country,” Davis explained.

Davis estimates the applicant pool has dropped about 50% in southeast Iowa. The dip has made it harder on departments to hire qualified officers. He says that’s due to growing animosity towards police following several police-involved killings nationwide.

“I think if you look within all professions, there might be somebody who isn’t doing things the right way. But that doesn’t mean all of those folks of that particular profession are bad people,” said Davis.

But Davis says support from citizens in his area has never been a problem. Lieutenant Mickey Hucks of the Ottumwa Police Department echoed that statement.

“We rarely get any kind of issues where there’s negative feedback about interactions with the police department. It might just be not understanding how an arrest procedure occurs and things like that,” Hucks said.

Both departments train on non-violent de-escalation. Davis and Hucks say the best way build trust in the community is through responsible actions in the field.

“I’ve always said that you will treat everybody with respect. Even if we’re going out to arrest these folks, they’ve made a mistake,” said Davis “When you show up, you have a uniform on and people make you appear to be authoritarian. That’s not that case. We’re here to help and try to assist them as best we can,” said Hucks.

The Ottumwa Police Department is trying to boost recruitment numbers in a number of ways, including a recruitment video outlining the day in the life of an officer.

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