HUNTSVILLE, Ala - There are currently about 420 officers employed with the Huntsville Police Department. The agency's recruitment officer would like to see that number grow to 500 over the next few years.
Huntsville is the fastest growing cities in the state. To keep up with that growth, recruitment officer Karl Kissich says the Huntsville police department needs to expand.
"We know its coming. We know its there, that 500 officers is. And you know ten years from now we may be saying 600 or 700 officers," Officer Kissish said.
Does the need for more police officers mean there is more crime?
"It's not that necessarily that crimes growing in Huntsville its that the city is growing," Kissich said.
He says there are two areas of the city the department is focusing on. "Specifically, those north and west areas. There's so much great growth going on out there. We've got to put officers, we've got to station officers out there."
Kissich says in order to recruit new officers the department has rolled out promotional videos and even a new website. They're working to meet people where they're at, their phones. Kissich is manning Facebook and Instagram pages designed to pique the interest of new officers.
Employing more officers does come at a cost - taxpayer dollars.
"It's great that the city council understands the growth of this city means the growth of the department," Kissich said.
He says city leaders have been standing behind the department as they hire more officers.
Huntsville police aren't the only ones in the Tennessee Valley looking to increase its recruitment pool. The Madison Police Department is working to hire several new officers as well.
Huntsville Police Department works to increase the number of applicants who apply
Since they need more officers in the coming years, HPD is working diligently to increase officer recruitment. Kissich says nationally, there has been a decrease in the number of people who apply to work in law enforcement and that is a trend that was also observed in Huntsville.
Kissich says several years ago, the department would receive upwards of 1,200 applications for the police academy. Several months ago it was at a low point of fewer than 400 applicants.
He says it's not because of dangers on the job. he says recruits are well aware of what it means to protect and serve.
"When the economy gets really good, which it has been really good, it kind of makes things harder to find police officers because there are so many people already doing well and working in the private sector," Kissich said.
Last year - the department created a 'recruitment officer' position. Kissich has been working to reach future applicants using social media. The department has also created radio and video advertisements. Kissich says the hard work is paying off. They're seeing around 700 applications for the police academy nowadays, but they'd like to see that number continue to increase.