NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA) — From police officer training to patrolling our community, law enforcement is a career that takes a lot of work. In a special report, KNWA’s Tavares Jones takes audiences behind the badge of the profession, showing just why it’s a job not made for everyone.
There are roughly 460 sworn officers across Northwest Arkansas working to protect and serve. Many of the cadets go through a rigorous thirteen-week training process at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy. The site located in Springdale, AR trains nearly 120 cadets annually.
As the climate of society and laws continue to evolve, there’s also a recent focus on mental health, the opioid crisis and officer safety & wellness. The training program has an 80% to 90% success rate as some cadets may withdraw to take on other career opportunities or for health reasons.
The Springdale Police Department is one of the largest agencies in the state with a total of 147 sworn officers. Law enforcement agencies agree that officer recruitment is a continuous effort. However, there are some challenges agencies face as the positions tend to pay less compared to private-sector jobs, and can include long shifts and time away from family.
Local law enforcement agencies also find themselves working to recruit certain demographics including women and minorities. Beyond gender and race, officers tend to bring diverse backgrounds and years of life experience to the job role.
The job also takes a day to day mental and physical toll on officers. When it comes to the qualities of a good officer candidate, things like integrity, character and a passion for service to others tops the list. Soft skills also play a key role.