MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The public is invited to witness 25 new Mobile Police officers officially joining the force. They’ll all take the oath Friday at Cottage Hill Baptist Church. The ceremony is at 2 p.m. Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Public Safety Director James Barber will be there to welcome the 63rd class of recruits to the department.
Recruitment is a major challenge for police departments across the country and a key in the mayor’s effort to make Mobile America’s safest city. Just this week, Mobile was on the list of the nation’s deadliest cities with a population of more than 100,000.
Here is a previous WKRG News 5 report on Mobile’s effort to recruit officers:
MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Every year, police departments in major cities lose about 12 percent of their officers. A growing challenge for many departments, including Mobile.
“Now, we’re very active in our high schools, within our colleges, certainly the criminal justice. Also active with our military, making sure that people coming out of the military also may be interested in law enforcement,” said Chief James Barber, Public Safety Director with Mobile Police Department.
It’s a new day for police departments across the country when it comes to hiring new officers.
“We are all not only having challenges with recruiting but also with retention,” said Barber.
Former Mobile Police Chief, James Barber tells New’s 5’s Amber Grigley, driving the interest in public safety at an early age is now a priority.
“If you look at what’s happened within our country in the past five years. The willful destruction in violence, now shares the headlines with the indiscriminate slaying of police officers for no other reason then them wearing the badge. That has a psychological impact,” said Barber.
Ideally, Mobile police need about 50-60 recruits per year in order to keep the department at sufficient levels. But with the challenges faced with recruiting, that target goal is sometimes hit or miss.
“You’re looking for that person that will run towards the sound of gunfire and danger when everybody else runs away from it. It’s a unique calling for people to do,” said Barber.
According to the Bureau of Justice, since 1997, the average number of full time sworn in police officers has dropped 11 percent. As of 2016, there is just more than 701,000 full time sworn in officers. With the U.S. population at about 323 point four billion, that means there are 2.17 officers per one-thousand residents.
The Mobile Police Department offers two police academies for recruitment every year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
Here is a list of the Mobile Police Academy Class #63 graduates.
Ronnie Rester III
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