More than 20 years ago, Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts would attend a law enforcement training event and would see as many as 200 people competing for one position. Things have changed since then, and Roberts says it’s not for the better.
“Now, you don’t even necessarily have to show up,” he said. “If your resume and background are clean, chances are they’re going to come after you.”
Roberts says the pressure placed on police officers is one reason why many are steering clear of a law enforcement career.
“If there’s a police officer in the equation, it’s going to get a lot of attention, it’s probably going to grow legs, and it’s going to evolve into something much bigger than I think scrutiny of any other profession exists,” he said.
Further, he said the shortage of qualified applicants perpetuates the problem.
“Agencies across the nation are hiring people who are less qualified and probably not as well trained and putting them out there prematurely, and having them make life and death decisions or decisions that impact certain inherent Constitutional rights,” he said. “The erosion of our ability to go out and find quality people to serve communities just continues on.”