SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Given the current environment, recruiting the next generation of police officers is becoming more difficult than ever.
With their scheduling demands and sometimes dangerous duty, finding individuals who want to wear the badge can be a challenge.
A call comes in…..it’s a report of a domestic dispute on the city’s westside between a man and woman in a stormy relationship.
Officer Carter Hand with the Sioux Falls Police Department wastes no time responding.
Upon arrival, Officer Hand and another police officer begin to question the victim.
“We have to fill out a report regardless, because in a situation like this it’s domestic violence relationship,” Hand said.
Whether it’s domestic violence, a robbery or some other crime scene, Officer Hand, who’s only been with the department for a year, finds his job rewarding.
“So what attracted me, are lots of things, but a lot of it had to do with how active and varying the job is being a police officer, there’s always different stuff going on it’s not a desk job and then also, obviously, just the nature of the job being able to help people every day and make a difference within the city,” Hand said.
That’s exactly the kind of people the Sioux Falls Police Department is looking to hire.
Right now they’re looking for 15 to 20 new officers, but finding that right person can be a struggle.
“Well I think there’s more jobs available for people, and less to fill them,”
Captain Dave McIntire is in charge of recruiting and retention for Sioux Falls Police.
“People are a little, they’re a little pickier about what they’re looking for in a job, I think they’re really putting family first. I think these days, and people look at, you know, a job is something they can try and if they don’t like it, they’ll try something else and I think that’s a little bit of a change from a decade or two in the past,” McIntire said.
He says the roles have reversed. It used to be people had to sell themselves to a potential employer, but nowadays, it’s the employer who has to do the selling.
“I think all employers need to realize that they’re looking for employees rather than employees looking for jobs, and we’re trying to accept that and change the way we do things and you know we just have to get out there and find the best people we can to fill these roles because they’re critical to the community success,” McIntire said.
McIntire says the job isn’t for everyone.
“Yeah, it really is a vocation. It’s a career, so we really are looking for a special kind of person that would you know really like to help the community and be a part of something bigger than themselves,” McIntire said.
One way the department has reached out to new recruits is by holding job fairs.
“Where we invite people in to show them, show them what we do, show them some videos let them talk with some officers people from different ranks, different assignments throughout the department, show them some of the many assignments that are available with the large police department like Sioux Falls police. There’s a lot of different jobs you can have being a police officer, and it can make for an interesting career,” McIntire said.
They’ve also changed up their schedules.
“Just in the last couple of years, not only have we added a lot of 10 hour shifts to give people a third day off, per week and at the same time we’re able to get better coverage, you know, for our citizens and answer calls faster, that was you know something mathematically that was easy to see, but it also gave our people better days off and better hours,” McIntire said.
To make the job even more appealing, they’re taking that up a notch.
“We’re actually going to embed and each shift, small group of officers that have rotating days, so those people that would normally have not the most desirable days off will actually have a number of weekends off during the year and and sometimes where it lines up where they’ll have four or five days off in a row,” McIntire said.
Hand, who isn’t married yet, works the 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift. He says that schedule works best for him right now and in a growing city like Sioux Falls, there’s rarely a dull moment.
“I like how active it is and how everything can be different from from minute to minute. You don’t ever know what’s gonna happen within the next 10 minutes, and then you’re making a difference in this city being able to help people,” Hand said.
That’s what attracted both officer Hand, who is still fairly new to the job and Captain McIntire, who has close to 24 years with the department.
“I just say that you know if anybody is out there looking for a job, to work with a great organization. We would love to tell them what we have to offer. And I would certainly do it again in a heartbeat had a great career down here and enjoyed every minute of it,” McIntire said.