Mason City Police Department hires two new officers, continues challenge of having about 20% less staff
MASON CITY — The Mason City Police Department is experiencing something that a lot of police departments in similar-sized cities across the county — a shortage of police officers and qualified applicants seeking to fill those openings.
The City Council this week approved the hiring of two new officers to join the force, but Police Chief Jeff Brinkley says his department is still running short on officers. “The numbers that I’m hearing as I read and keep up with the discussion on this in the industry that 15-25% vacancy is getting to be somewhat normal, and for a department like ours that’s busy most of the time, that’s a hard number. This is an effort to put two more people into those ranks, but academy training for both of these new officers will be required. We’ll get that scheduled pending approval tonight and then get them scheduled with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy for academy training and field training following their hire date.”
Brinkley says in the most recent recruiting period they received 26 applicants but were only able to find a handful of qualified candidates. “We took seven people to interview, passed three people through interview out of those seven, and then we’ve got one more person still in background that we might get off of this list. Those are pretty common numbers. The applicant pool is way down, the qualified applicant numbers in that pool are down, and good candidates are having their choice of employment options right now in our market.”
Mason City’s police department last week had to deal with three major investigations with a murder, a stabbing incident, and the resumption of an investigation where bones were located on the banks of the Winnebago River. Brinkley says he’s proud of the effort his short-staffed department has done with assistance from other agencies.
22 (brinkley3) “something to us”
(as above — “You know we’re doing that with about 20% less staff at the moment and we’ve had some people really step up. I’m really proud of the work we’re doing. I’m proud of the relationships we have with our local agencies, the state, DCI, and some of those places. When we call them they are there, but I’m really proud of the work our people have done. We had eight people volunteer to stay late Monday after trying to help us with part of one of those investigations. That means something to us.”) The City Council this week approved the hirings of Anthony Jensen and Chandler Santee, with the starting hourly wage for police officers under the collective bargaining agreement being $26.76.