Local police departments struggle to find and keep officers

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Local police departments are struggling to find and keep officers.

Sgt. Tony Murphy with the Fayetteville Police Department said so far in 2021, the department is down eight officers. Typically it loses 12 or so officers a year, but there is concern now over filling those spots.

“It’s not just here in Fayetteville, I think it’s a national trend that is occurring across the nation due to events that have occurred in the last several months.”

While the department still has around 130 officers, Murphy said being down eight can still have consequences.

“It’s pretty significant when you look at patrol officers,” Murphy said. “We’re lucky if there’s 10-15 to cover a city with a daytime population of over 100,000.”

Murphy said this also has a domino effect on the rest of the department when the shifts are not filled.

“If patrol can’t staff then we have to pull people from our CID and divisions like that and then those felony cases aren’t getting investigated.”

As a result, the Fayetteville Police Department is having an emergency test to hire officers June 18th. Murphy said seven positions are currently vacant.

But, just a few miles down the road is a different scenario for a smaller agency: Prairie Grove Police Department.

Captain Jeff O’Brien said the department has not lost an officer over the last year and is growing.

“We have successfully hired certified officers that come from larger agencies and those officers have taken pay cuts to come here.”

One of those officers being Andrew Gibson, who came from Fayetteville. Gibson is credited with saving Officer Tyler Franks life in a shooting last month in Prairie Grove.

“The agencies in northwest Arkansas are fantastic- great agencies to work with,” O’Brien said. “But, some agencies deal with a higher call volume and perhaps maybe even more stresses from the community that we don’t experience here in smaller towns.”


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