Jonesboro Police Retention Low, Recruitment Hopes High

August 10, 2007 - Posted at 5:07 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Since 2002, the Jonesboro Police Department has lost 40% of its total force...and is currently looking to hire 29 more officers.

But not everyone is cut out to be a cop and it can be some pretty big shoes to fill...which is why Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates is looking into an incentive program.

"We have been losing a lot of our officers to the private sector. and it amounts to economics a good officer with a good reputation that has been in the job for 4 or 5 years becomes super marketable to the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and private business," said Chief Yates.

The Jonesboro Police Department has seen a 24% turnover rate in the last two years.  A hiring incentive program would cost the city $224,000 a year, but it could save money in the long run.

"Basically pay for education, pay for different state certifications, pay for skill sets, and additional pay for fluency in second language. And additional pay for physical fitness demands.  And some of those things would pay back on the back end, especially the physical fitness, retirements due to injury may go down," said Chief Yates.

With nearly 30 openings, more and more officers are picking up the slack on the streets.

"I'm just as worried about these officers just getting tired and it's not safe for them, it's just not safe," said council member Judy Furr.

It costs $38,000 to provide training, uniforms, equipment and salary before a JPD is ready to hit the streets.

"We've got to change our position in the market place and do a better job of retaining our investment that we make in the officers," said Chief Yates.

"I think the Chief pretty much summed it up, we don't have anything to worry about, but at the same time, I've got children to. And just as I told him a minute ago I think we need more officers on the street. So I hope this is one step trying to make things better for the city of Jonesboro," said council member Tim McCall.

Chief Yates does not plan on asking the city to increase the number of officer positions on the force.  Currently the state police academy will only accept a maximum of 20 recruits from Jonesboro each year.