Sunday, October 28, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 10/29/18
Featured image: A Maywood police officer walks inside of the department’s station at 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. | Heather Lee Charles/heatherleecharles.com
The Maywood Police Department is stepping up efforts to recruit new officers in light of a chronic shortage of officers.
Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley said during a regular meeting on Oct. 16 that his department currently has a shortage of around 11 officers. He said that one person is in the police academy and two prospective officers graduated from the academy on Oct. 7, which would bring the shortage to eight when those officers are in position.
Talley and Gloria Clay, a member of the village’s Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, said that they’ve had a difficult time recruiting more officers.
“[The difficulty] is not just in Maywood, though, it’s for all law enforcement agencies,” Talley said. “I would ask for assistance in helping us recruit.”
Talley said that he’s visited college campuses to recruit prospective officers and that 61 college students aspiring to go into law enforcement have completed his internship program. Only one of those interns, however, has become a Maywood Police officer.
The chief said that part of the problem could be with the rigorous selection process that candidates must complete. During the most recent hiring cycle, he said, 68 people sent in applications, 39 people showed up for the test and 26 passed it. They were scheduled to undergo oral interviews the following Thursday.
“I imagine six won’t show up,” Talley said. “That will probably give us 20. I probably won’t even get three [police officers] out of that group, because there are a host of other things that go into the selection process, including background and polygraph tests, a medical exam, a psychological evaluation — all of those tools select people out of the process.”
The next police test is scheduled for March 23, 2019, he said. Clay said that in order to reach more candidates, the police and fire board extended the application window.
“We were doing applications 30 days in advance, but now it’s 60 days in advance,” she said. “We have not been getting a lot of people to come out and apply for police positions and that’s been hurting us. We just lose a lot of people.”
Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon wondered whether or not the village could recruit people who are already certified.
“Is it possible to get officers who are already trained and already have the background and are ready to go versus having that lengthy process in place?” he asked Talley.
“Yes and no,” the chief said, adding that the future Maywood police officer who is currently in the academy was already certified by another department.
“All he needed was a few hours [of additional training], but the academy did not allow for those few hours, so he had to go through the entire training,” Talley said. “Now, his training will be equal to all of the other [officers in the Maywood department].”
Talley said that the switch last year to 12-hour shifts, however, is “working very well,” and has allowed the department to deploy more officers than in years past. Talley said that overtime expenditures have also dropped due to the switch to 12-hour shifts — from $1.3 million five years ago to around $200,000 this year.
Talley said that the department has increased the number of investigators looking into frequent crimes like burglaries and domestic violence — going from three investigators to six. The result, the chief said, has been a gradual decrease in crime.
“I want to make sure the village is safe and you can see the village is safe, because crime statistics have dropped double digits every year for the five years [I’ve been chief],” he said.
Talley added that the department currently has a shortage of eight police vehicles, as well. He said he’s looking to request that the board purchase more vehicles in the budget for FY 2020, which would come up for approval in May 2019.
But many of the village’s policing issues will only be resolved by putting more police on the street. To that end, Talley said, he’s come up with a new marketing pitch, adding that he hopes more residents direct him to people they think will be good police officers.
“If you know of anyone,” Talley told community members, tell them that “after 72 months, a Maywood Police officer makes $91,000. I’m giving away $91,000 for anyone who wants a career.” VFP
This article has been updated to reflect the sensitive nature of a situation involving a resident who had been quoted in a previous version of this story.
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