KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Local police are facing employment issues and it could pose problems for local communities.
“They are very important to our community. I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. I think they go out and bust their butts just like everyone else does,” said Valarie Nat, Shavertown.
Those behind the badge vow to respect life and liberty while providing justice and protecting the lives of all, but not every police officer follows this mantra.
“Society has changed people’s opinions on police and that’s where our problem is,” said Chief Richard Kotchik, Kingston Police Department.
According to the PEW Research Center, the majority of Americans say police do a good job of protecting people from crime, but only 34% of people believe they treat racial and ethnic groups equally.
The problem? With a changing public opinion toward the profession, Kotchik tells us less people are willing to join the force.
“Back in 1997 when I took the test, 97/98, I think there was 97 people that took the test with me. I advertised to give a test a month and a half or two months ago and I had zero applicants,” said chief Kotchik.
Less applicants could pose a big issue for the future.
“It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality we’re worried about. But, if we continue to trend and we’re picking from a smaller group of people, the chances of us getting good people would decrease,” said detective Stephen Gibson, Kingston Police Department.
“With part-time cops, a lot of these guys were applying, you knew what kind of people they were, what kind of job they did and you got to pick from that pool of people. But, now, changing standards and taking people right out of the academy, you really don’t know what you’re getting,” said Chief Richard Kotchik.
“I think even though you have slim applicants, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all bad either. You just don’t have a variety to choose from. They could all be great,” said Nat.
A new application window just opened for the Kingston Police Department and officers are hopeful for the future.
Click here to learn about the police officer application process.