Police Officer Shortage Impacting Local Depts.
HARLINGEN – A lack of Rio Grande Valley police officers patrolling the streets means others have to pick up the slack.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS wanted to know why Valley police departments are having trouble hiring officers.
Harlingen police is currently looking to fill 12 positions. Police officer Jesus Banda said he’s used to the overtime these days.
“You might not feel it but you look at your watch or when you clock and, you know, that, ‘Wow it’s already been 12 hours, 13 hours?’” he said. “You like being a police officer; working a little bit more is not that hard.”
CHANNEL 5 NEWS joined Banda for a ride along. He explained to us crimes never stop no matter how many officers there are.
“Whether we have a lot of people or not, you still get the same amount of calls,” he said.
We learned the FBI tracks a recommended number of officers a city should have. The agency said there should be about 2.4 officers for every 1000 people in a city.
Harlingen Police Sgt. John Parrish said the big number of vacancies is mostly due to officers transferring.
“Everybody is always looking to better themselves, so they may look at other agencies, state, federal, things of that nature,” he said.
Parrish added it’s a problem causing competition of sorts between agencies across the state.
“Everybody is seeing this push. Everybody is recruiting for the same group of young people out of college, young officers of that nature, and we are all competing,” he said.
Banda said he has no interest in leaving Harlingen.
The Harlingen police chief said they hope to fill most, if not all, 12 open spots by this summer.