BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) -- In the last four months, the Blytheville Police Department has lost four officers to higher paying jobs outside the department...bringing their staff down to 40.
It's a big hit for the department, which is having trouble competing for job candidates against some of the higher paying factories in town...but Police Chief Ross Thompson says it's not impacting the way they patrol the streets.
The city is budgeted for 45 officers but only has 40 officers on the force currently. That's one officer for every 400 residents.
"There are more demands, societal type demands and people expect more and that's where law enforcement is headed. I think the pay and benefits are some of the things that haven't kept up with that. Not just Blytheville, but across the country," said Chief Thompson.
The current starting pay for a Blytheville Police Officer is $24,700. Under Chief Thompson's restructuring plan, new officers would take home $25,557 their first year.
Economic conditions, including higher gas prices, have had an impact on officers searching for higher paying jobs. Chief Thompson also believes Blytheville's strong and high paying work force is playing a role.
"They've done such a good job on bringing in these industries that are paying well, now we are competing for some of those higher paying jobs," said Chief Thompson, "And I think some of the factories like the firemen and police because of their background and their character, work ethic."
On the average, BPD officers have about seven years of experience with the force.
"If anybody knows anybody who is interested in law enforcement, I'll take this opportunity to solicit," laughed Thompson, "There are a lot of good opportunities in law enforcement in Blytheville."