SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Despite a two-month digital ad campaign to attract new recruits, the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department is seeing a slow-down in the number of applications they're receiving.
Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin recently went over recruiting, manpower and attrition numbers with members of Savannah's City Council.
Chief Lumpkin says so far this year, the attrition rate or rate they're losing officers and recruits is a little higher than usual.
But there are a lot of factors that come into play, like retirements, and holding officers, and especially new recruits, to higher standards. The chief says a majority of what are referred to as separations from the department are the result of terminations and performance failures.
As for the applications, about this time last year, the department received 181 recruit applications. Now, that number is hovering around the mid-70s.
Chief Lumpkin says he believes that's partially due to competing departments making their officer salaries more competitive, essentially copying a lot of the initiatives SCMPD has implemented over the past year.
Lumpkin says what happens nationally to police officers also has an effect on application numbers.
"Also a big one is the national climate regarding police. That many people at this point, as it was in the 1970's when I was a street cop, when we were losing so many officers on the street, the danger level was up. People think terrorism is new. We were having a thousand bombings a year in the 70's in the United States," Chief Lumpkin said.
SCMPD has 603 officers on the payroll, which includes on the street and in training. That leaves 10 vacancies.
As of Monday this week, the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department has lost 48 officers and recruits for a variety of reasons since the beginning of the year:
- 18 officers have resigned, most to move closer to family or a spouse took a new job.
- 6 recruits resigned while they were still in training.
- One officer died.
- 5 officers were fired, and 8 recruits were fired while in training.
- 8 officers have retired. 2 officers have been out on military leave for more than 5 consecutive years, so per city policy they have been let go.