OPD Responds to Officer Shortage 7/18/13
CBS 7 News
Odessa, TX - For 20-year-old Raymond Feril being an officer is a lifelong goal.
“Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be a police officer so I decided to take that opportunity,” Feril said.
An opportunity that was almost out of reach after Feril saw the skyrocketing housing prices.
“I started looking for a place on the internet and I didn't realize how expensive it was,” he said.
The high cost of living is the main reason why Odessa Police Chief Timothy Burton says they’re 25 Police officers short.
He says the department has rearranged shifts to coincide with the volume of emergency calls and many officers are also working overtime.
“The men and women out there in uniform are working very hard sometimes under very trying conditions and these are brave courageous and selfless folks,” he said.
To bring in more officers, the department came up with new financial incentives:
· Recruits can now get cost of living support receiving up to $1,400 during their training in the academy and they'll get a $700 bonus during the field training.
· A lateral entry recruitment incentive will allow former or current certified officers to join the ranks with a salary to match their qualifications
· The United States Veteran's Administration recently certified the OPD to entitle veterans to receive pay benefits.
“We have the burden not only with the competitive market, but in elongated learning curve,” he said.
“After high school I shipped out to the military did that for four years and now here I am,” said Feril, who is part of the first group of recruits receiving these benefits.
“I think without it some of us couldn't afford to live out here,” he said.
The department says it takes nearly a year to train before working independently as an officer. Feril graduates in December a moment that he and the department look forward to.
"Getting out on the streets and getting out there," he said.
The city of Odessa is also doing a compensation study, which will tell the police department if they're making the salary packages and incentives competitive enough compared to the rest of the Permian Basin.