Magic Valley Law Enforcement Feels a Staff Shortage |

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TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls Police Department recently received a federal grant to hire four new patrol officers. But while the grant will help pay for the additional positions, the police department said it still has six positions open and, like many law enforcement entities in the state, not enough people are applying. for jobs.

The grant will provide half a million dollars in funding over three years. The grant will run for three years and has a matching structure, with the federal government covering $300,000 in the first year, $150,000 in the second and $50,000 in the third year. Twin Falls will pay approximately $71,000 in year one, $100,000 in year two, and $200,000 in year three.

“Our recruiting efforts have been frustrating, if I can be honest,” Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsburry told the council when they voted to accept the grant at their Jan. 24 meeting.

“We will continue to work hard to find the right men and women, we will not lower our standards,” Kingsbury said. “We want to make sure we find the right men and women to wear our badge and work for our beautiful city and be agents of peace.”

There are 77 places for sworn peace officers in Twin Falls. The grant brings that number to 81.

“I would ask anyone who wants to work for a good law enforcement agency to send us an email, text, phone call, whatever, to get in touch with us,” Kingsburry said.

Twin Falls Police Department Lt. Terance Thueson said recruiting has always been a challenge for law enforcement.

“But I would say it has increased and become even more difficult over the past two years,” Thueson said.

As seen in many industries across the state and nation, staffing continues to be a challenge as vacancies receive fewer applicants. Thueson said these trends are a factor that affects everyone. But he said there could be other factors that have affected police recruitment in recent years.

“I also think there’s been a lot of publicity towards the law enforcement profession and not necessarily in a positive way,” Thueson said. “I think it affected people’s desire to get into policing.”

Vacancies in the department come from retirements, which Thueson says is a good thing. But vacancies may mean there is less coverage for sick days, of which there have been several in recent weeks due to COVID-19.

The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Department is about to be full. But Capt. Douglas Sugden said the sheriff’s department has also seen a drop in the number of applicants in recent years. When hiring for positions like driver’s license clerks, the number of applications plummeted.

“Normally when we advertise for these positions, we literally get 150 applicants for one position,” Sugden said. “Now we’re lucky if we get five.”

The Sheriff’s Department also holds open applications for ordinary citizens with no experience who can apply. About once a month, the department holds test sessions, but on some occasions, only two or three people show up. In some cases, testing sessions were canceled because no one showed up.

“It’s sometimes difficult to compete with private entities,” Sugden said. “Some of our clerk positions start at around $15.49…but you can start in Chobani or Clif Bar and make $18-20 an hour.”

The Sheriff’s Department has had some success hiring lateral transfers, where experienced law enforcement personnel can transfer to Twin Falls. In some cases, this solved some staffing issues. Sugden said it’s also good to bring in people with some experience.

“We like to hire new people who want to get into the business, but at some point you start looking for experience, so you need experienced people to lead,” Sugden said. “It’s a niche area and you have to be prepared for those things.”

Another thing that can narrow the pool of candidates is what Sugden said is a generational trend of people not staying in a job very long. New generations will work for a few years and then stop to try something new.

“We frequently get applicants who might not be that bad, but you wonder how stable they’re going to be because in the last five years they’ve had four jobs,” Sugden said.

At TFPD, Lt. Thueson said they were looking for people with certain skills needed for the job.

“We are really looking for candidates who have the ability to reason, who are service oriented and who have a desire to help people.” .

For those inexperienced, CSI has a 17 week policing program, Idaho Academy has a 15 week program, new recruits will go through either one if they are hired with no experience, or individuals who submit to the program would be eligible for placement in most municipal law enforcement entities.

“If we find the right candidates, we will help them put in place the training that will be needed,” Thueson said.

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