FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Police departments across the country are trying to reassure their communities that they are there to protect and serve, but classes at the police academy keep getting smaller.
As one police union president told Local 10 News, hiring in law enforcement has changed.
Jeff Bell heads the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, the union that represents 1,400 members.
"When I first started in 94, nobody was even handing out a job application," Bell said.
In the past, Bell said the hiring trends were tied to the economy, that a bad economy meant more people wanted to be cops because the job is stable, and comes with benefits and pensions.
But these days it’s more than just the economy.
"It's a plethora of things that add up," Bell said. "Nobody wants to do this job anymore."
He said now it’s too much media attention, too much politics, and not enough qualified candidates.
In Broward County, law enforcement agencies are hiring:
The Broward Sheriff's Office has 59 openings, Fort Lauderdale police have 12 openings and Pembroke Pines PD has 16.
In Miami-Dade, it's the same story.
Miami-Dade police has 99 openings and the City of Miami PD has 14.
Steadman Stahl is the President of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association.
"It’s becoming more difficult," he said. "I’m getting a lot more phone calls about officers just wanting to leave. They’ve had enough."
Because of that, agencies have become more aggressive when it comes to hiring.
Across the country, some offer to pay for moving expenses, add hiring bonuses to a deal, and some are even willing to overlook past minor run-ins with the law.
“What I’m starting to see across the nation right now is you’re seeing people that are a little bit demoralized about this anti-police rhetoric that we are hearing out there,” said Stahl. “I don’t know who wants to come into this profession right now when everything that we do seems to be wrong.”