Some Central Texas police departments short on recruits

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(KWTX) Some Central Texas police departments are coming up short in their search for recruits.

"Yes there are some shortages,” said Waco police Sg. Bobby Cavasos.

“It’s just a matter of how we've been trying to catch up for years.”

One reason might be the demands of the job.

"I don't think there's a shortage of good people, I think there's a shortage of people that want to come out and take on a job as challenging as this," said Det. Babe Torres, a Waco Police Department recruiter.

Another might be changing perceptions.

"Public perception, the social atmosphere toward law enforcement and the nonstop stream of violence against the officers, certainly are factors in one's choice of entering into the profession,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

Torres agrees.

"It's that they say ‘we don't like the police,’” he said.

“It's the biggest form of prejudice ever in this country and it’s over our uniform not the color of skin or gender. It’s the color of the uniform,” he said.

Another problem, Cavasos and Torres say, is that some of those who want to apply might be disqualified by what turns up in background checks.

"When you're applying for a job as a police officer, your background is very important (in terms of) what you've done and what you haven't done," Torres said.

Others, they say, may pass background checks only to quit when they discover how tough the job really is.

"How are you about making decisions that are popular to your peers? That's right now a huge problem with the generation that's coming up. Nobody wants to be an outcast from their peers," Torres said.

But for those who want to serve, he says, “If you want to make a difference in this community this is where you come to do it."

Some departments across Central Texas like the Temple, Waco and Hewitt departments are turning to social media to try to attract recruits.

The Temple Police Department is still getting ready for the latest civil service testing date, spokeswoman Ellen Morton said.

Some have already signed up but the department remains 16 short as of Friday, she said.

The Belton Police Department isn’t currently recruiting.