SWFL law enforcement agencies staying ahead of possible officer shortages

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Crime scene in Lee County. Credit: WINK News

Law enforcement agencies are looking for people to come work with them. The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office is even hosting a job fair Thursday. To what extent are Southwest Florida agencies seeing an officer shortage?

Some places, like Washington or Chicago, are seeing marked shortages, and a handful of police agencies are offering big incentives to fill the shoes of the staff they don’t have as a result. There are several reasons for the shortages: Baby Boomers are retiring, the job is seen as dangerous by potential recruits and it does not always pay especially well. But agencies WINK News reached out to in Southwest Florida gave mixed responses.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says it launched a campaign between June and October that brought in a number of candidates. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is actively hiring, looking to fill 34 law enforcement positions. The Cape Coral Police Department, on the other hand, has had no difficulty staying fully staffed, saying it currently has a pool of over 100 applicants.

“We’re doing wonderfully,” said Master Cpl. Phil Mullen with CCPD. “Our allotted number of officers is actually pretty much full, and that might be for the first time in many years. We always have a few leave through retirement or attrition and then we have to replace those few, but we may be actually full right now.”

Some have cited vaccine mandates as another reason for officer shortages, with some leaving the industry because of them. Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants those people to come down to Florida, offering a $5,000 cash incentive for law enforcement to relocate.

“We provide protections for people,” DeSantis said. “No nurse, no firefighter, no police officer, no trucker, no anybody should lose their job because of these COVID[-19] jabs.”

DCSO’s hiring event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its headquarters at 208 East Cypress St. in Arcadia. It is hiring a number of positions, from deputies and 911 telecommunications to IT support specialists If you go, you can get your application reviewed and your interview done on the same day.

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