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Duluth among MN police departments facing dramatic applicant drop

Police departments all across Minnesota are seeing a big drop in the number of people who want to be police officers, including in Duluth. The Minnesota Police Chiefs Association announced a big push Wednesday to change that.

At a press conference in St Paul, several law enforcement officers from both large and small Minnesota communities gathered to announce their new “Wear the Badge” campaign, which includes several different methods to recruit new applicants.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said there’s not one clear reason why this shortage is happening, but he did point to a couple contributors. The first, he said, is the fact that people can make more money in the private sector. He also blamed the high level of scrutiny the policing profession is facing right now.

“Unfortunately, we have recoiled our image and brand has been tarnished. we are all about accountability and we are all about owning that but we have to get our message out there that this is one of the most honorable positions out there.”

He added that recruiting a diverse force, both by gender and ethnicity, remains one of their biggest obstacles.

The application shortage a problem in the Twin Ports, too. According to numbers from the Duluth Police Department, eight years ago in 2010, Duluth Police saw 257 applicants. About 80 percent of those people took a test that they are required to pass in order to eventually become a police officer.

In 2018, the number of applicants dropped to 106 applicants with only 50 percent of those people taking the test to become an officer.

For perspective, that’s a drop of 151 applicants in an eight-year span.

The Minnesota Police Chiefs Association officials said today they hope the “Wear the Badge” initiative will help reverse the trend.

“Wear the Badge” involves new recruitment videos highlighting a day-in-the-life of an officer, a big social media push, and getting into high schools to spur interest at a young age, among other things.

While this new initiative is happening in Minnesota, the issue of declining police applicants isn’t unique to the Gopher State.

In a statement Wednesday, Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander says in 2017, his department saw a 30 to 35 percent drop in their applicants, but he said he’s still able to fill open positions. Alexander added that he hopes to hire about three or four more officers as he anticipates some retirements early next year.

Briggs LeSavage

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