Fort Smith Police tackling officer shortage, ramping up recruiting

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA) — Fort Smith Police is changing the way it recruits new officers and tackling an officer shortage.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, since 2013, the total number of working sworn officers has fallen by about 23,000.

Local police departments are feeling the effects, including in Fort Smith.

Julio Solis, the Recruiting Coordinator for the Fort Smith Police Department, says they were short 29 officers in recent months. That’s the most in years.

In the past few weeks, 19 officers have been hired and are currently in the police academy. Twelve positions remain open.

Solis says a higher budget is helping in advertising, and they’re also looking for innovative ways to showcase its community-oriented policing.

“Out of our 19 officers, a few came out and did ride-a longs. They’re like, ‘oh, that’s not what I expected,’ and,  ‘I actually think I might like the job.’ Just getting them out to the streets and actually letting them know what it’s really about, instead of what they portray an officer to be,” Solis said.

Solis says they’re also using social media like Facebook and Instagram to post jobs, after receiving a great response from the platforms.

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