By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor
Certified police officers have applied in increasing numbers for positions with the Clovis Police Department, a recent trend Police Chief Bill Carey believes is due to enhanced recruiting efforts and recent salary increases approved by the City Commission.
A $714,000 departmentwide salary increase in November for Clovis police has made the department competitive statewide, Carey said, and an eight-second advertisement on cable television and DVDs that go to potential applicants sell the community and the department.
Moreover, Clovis police have been attending area job fairs to recruit potential officers.
“I think (the pay raise) is part of it,” Carey said. “I think the harder we recruit and show we have a good community to work in, a good community to live in, a growing community, the more people are going to want to work here.”
Currently the department is 10 officers short of a full staff, but Carey said he has hired one certified police officer and Clovis police are doing background checks on three other certified officers who have applied.
If hired, it can take up to 20 weeks — with 8-10 weeks for training and 8-10 weeks for orientation, when they ride with a supervisor — before certified police officers are working by themselves, Carey said.
Moreover, three cadets will graduate Wednesday from the police academy in Hobbs and should be working in Clovis by January. Two of those cadets are at the top of the 13-person class, Carey said.
Carey said the television advertisement airs in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, and the department is planning more advertisements on radio stations and in newspapers.
City Commissioner Juan Garza said he’s pleased with the successful recruitment efforts, but noted the main reason the City Commission approved the pay increase was to retain officers already employed.
He said he doesn’t expect major changes in the workforce for a while.
“It’s a slow process,” he said. “If we don’t lose any officers and we can bring in some more then that’s great.”
Carey said last week the department recently lost one longtime officer to retirement, but that was expected.
Like Garza, Carey said getting the department fully staffed can be a long- and drawn-out process.
“I can’t guarantee in six months we’ll be fully manned,” he said. “It’s hard to say when we will be.”