MASON CITY, Iowa - Throughout the pandemic, many businesses and companies have had to deal with staffing shortages due to cutbacks. Law enforcement is no exception.
This week, Mason City city council approved the police department's hiring of two full-time officers. However, there are still 7 vacancies, and it's an example playing out in other departments across the country.
Chief Jeff Brinkley has heard many departments are experiencing a 15-25% vacancy. Locally, the department has had to make some slight changes in operations.
"We've shut down special units and put those officers back on patrol to make sure our patrol shifts are properly staffed. You have to shift priorities. Are there other proactive things that we'd like to be doing in the community? Absolutely. But we don't have the people right now."
As for recruiting new hires, Brinkley cites a few factors that have made it a bit tricky, pointing to the current national narrative around law enforcement, as government jobs not being in high demand.
"We certainly saw COVID do that, as the economy turned down. But it also didn't necessarily send us the kinds of candidates we were hoping to get. There's a quality and quantity of candidate issue for us right now in policing."
The department uses the civil service process to fill open positions, which includes a hiring list and screening for qualification.