MASON CITY, Ia. - North Iowa Area Community College Professor George O'Donnell says police officers are more under the microscope than ever before, which is why he has noticed there is less enrollment in his criminal justice courses. In 2009 there were roughly 90 students in his program. Now it is around 60.
"They are under intense scrutiny and some people just don't want to deal with that," O'Donnell said.
Mason City Police Captain Mike McKelvey agrees with this saying the bad publicity is a huge factor along with the grueling lifestyle and hours.
"A lot of them don't like the hours, just don't like the grief, it is kind of a thankless job," McKelvey said.
McKelvey also blames social media, saying it paints a bad picture of the men and women in blue.
"It's hard to compete with social media on some of this stuff to get the facts," McKelvey said.
Depiste the struggle to fill the positions, McKelvey only wants passionate people.
"If they are really not truly committed to do it for the right reasons then they probably shouldn't," McKelvey said.
Luke Peterson is an exception to this pattern. He has noticed peers and classmates have a more tainted perception of officers.
"There's a lot more attitudes that are not as pro-pleased as they might have used to been," Peterson said.
And that's too bad because he believes demand will only grow for law enforcement.
"As our population keeps growing, cities keep on expanding, there's gonna be more ground to cover," Peterson said.