Police Labor Markets and the Advantage of a Larger County Department

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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann reports Nazareth borough council members are dissatisfied with the quality of police officers their tiny department has been able to attract. No surprise there. When your tax base is so small that you can only afford to hire part-time officers, you’re not going to be able to hire top talent:

Matz said new officers do not make for a new department.
“It’s the quality of choice that has not fulfilled itself. I haven’t been satisfied with what we got,” Matz said. “We got junk out of the debris of human beings who are not qualitative people.”

The borough in June was forced to turn to the state for coverage of its employees after Travelers Insurance paid out $1.1 million in claims since 2009 and dropped coverage. Matz said borough police officers do whatever they want to do and no one can control them.

“It’s the person who’s hired that makes the difference, not the number of people hired … but the choice and character of the people,” Matz told the chief.

Trachta said the candidates he has brought to the table have been rejected by borough council. He said most of the borough’s 12 part-time officers have other full-time jobs and obligations. Many do not want to work on weekends, leaving coverage gaps, he said […]

Matz said other municipalities, such as Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton have a larger tax base than Nazareth to attract top Pennsylvania State Police Academy officers. He said in order to succeed, the borough must search elsewhere for quality coverage.

Think about this in relation to your own career. If you’re a serious professional, do you want to join an organization where there’s no potential for advancement or specialization, where they’ll only employ you part time? Or an organization that can employ you full time, where you can specialize and get training, and there are actually opportunities for promotion and career advancement?

No wonder Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton can attract higher quality police labor. A County police department would have an even greater advantage in attracting the best state police officers and other top talent from all over.

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