Decatur Police Department addresses officer shortage

Lt. Canipe on Decatur Square

The Decatur Police Department is starting 2018 with fewer officers than they’d like, according to department officials.

 According to DPD, the department is trying to fill six positions.

 DPD Community Information and Education Officer Jennifer Ross said the department is working to fill the positions, but finding qualified applicants who want to be police officers is an issue.

 “Police departments across the country are having a hard time filling positions,” said Ross in an email exchange with The Champion Newspaper. “There are just not enough qualified applicants seeking jobs as police officers. We are actively recruiting to fill the remaining positions.”

 Decatur has hired three new officers, two of whom have started academy training. The city of Decatur also increased the starting salary for officers Jan. 1.

 Because of the shortage, Ross said some officers are working extra hours.

 “Officers work additional shifts to cover when needed and schedules are altered to ensure shift coverage,” Ross said.

 According to a national survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform, police say their job has become harder. In the survey, 93 percent of the 8,000 police officers interviewed said they have become more concerned for their safety.

 “Policing is not a popular job in our country at this point in time and not many people want to work in a profession where everything they do is scrutinized,” Ross said. “Also, there are fewer young people willing to adopt the ‘service over self’ choice to make less money and work nights, weekends and holidays to serve their communities in this role.”

 Decatur increased salaries for police officers in 2018. A non-certified officer will receive an annual salary of $43,534 a year. An officer with a certification or college degree will make $45,739. Officers with five years of experience can earn up to $54,000 a year.

 “We are a small agency in a small community, which creates a more close-knit, family feel. Our officers are safer, because backup is never far away,” Ross said. “We have the luxury of a lower crime rate compared to the jurisdictions that surround us, which allows for more proactive activity rather than constantly responding to calls and allows for officers to participate in the community in other ways outside of just enforcing the law. Our department and our city value advanced training and a progressive mindset.”

 Ross said individuals interested in joining the DPD can contact Captain Matics at or visit



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