Gwinnett County faces shortage of police officers - CBS46 News

Gwinnett County faces shortage of police officers

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

Gwinnett County's police department is gearing up for a large recruiting drive as it tries to combat a 10-year low in the number of police officers on patrol.

The department is short more than 100 officers short of its goal of 783 officers. Additionally, the county only has about 75 percent of the 911 call takers they need for emergencies.

"There are a lot of factors that go into whether people are choosing this as a career," says Sgt. Troy Tobler. "I don't think you can pinpoint any one thing."

Tobler is in charge of recruiting for the Gwinnett County Police Department. He says he's noticing a trend.

"When the economy pretty much tanked, we had a lot of applications," says Tobler. "As the economy improves, we have less and less applications and more positions to fill."

In Gwinnett County, an officer candidate with no experience can expect to start at about $36,000. The same goes for a 911 operator. 

But there's more to consider than money. Some in the law enforcement profession think recruitment is down because of the negative attention focused on the profession and more people chronicling unfriendly interactions with officers on social media.

"I don't think there's any other occupation where you can touch lives in so many different ways," says Sgt. Tobler. "Unfortunately, some of those are not so positive, but the majority of interactions you have with people are positive."

That's why they're hosting an event on Aug. 5-6 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter on Winder Highway. Normally, the hiring process takes 90 days, but the event promises to bypass most of the wait.

CBS46 asked if Gwinnett would consider hiring someone who's been arrested. The answer was 'maybe,' although anyone convicted of a felony probably won't be considered.

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