STATELINE (WIFR) – Rockford Police are having a hard time finding the right people to watch over our streets. While some applicants are failing the required exams, others aren’t passing drug tests, despite hundreds of candidates going through the process.
For the first time in years, the department and others in our community could be at full staff.
Nathan Szewczyk is one of Rockford’s newest police officers. He finished his training at the police academy and has been in the field for six weeks.
“Being on the street they kind of ease you into it to an extent so it’s exactly what I expected but there’s lots of unexpected things that happen though,” Szewczyk said.
Szewczyk’s recruiting class of 16 officers brought the Rockford Police Department almost back to full staff. There are now 283 cops on force, but that number is growing. Applications are out right now to fill seven more spots.
“It’s a very rewarding career that allows for a lot of diversity within the job day to day basis.”
Aspiring officers might also be able to land a job in Freeport. The city just hired four new officers and the department is in a second round of hiring to fill a few more vacancies. Chief Jerry Whitmore says having a full staff means officers are better able to keep us safe.
“We need a specific number of officers out on the street, not just to answer the calls but to be proactive and to work with the community so by keeping the numbers up it actually allows us to do a little bit better job,” said Freeport Police Chief, Jerry Whitmore.
Belvidere is also starting testing to find new recruits. The Department is expecting some officers to retire which means more openings there too. Szewczyk says it’s a competitive field. It took him more than a year to land a job, but encourages others to just keep trying.
“Know that if you want it, you’ll get it and just keep trying.”
Rockford’s full strength is 285 officers. They’re planning on hiring in the next round enough officers to add five more to that total. Those positions will be paid for through a grant. The Freeport Police Department would like to add a K-9 unit within the next year. The mayor says he hopes to get grants to pay for that officer’s salary.
The Rockford Police Department has a number of recruiting events coming up. Officers will be at the following places tomorrow, October 8, 2013 to answer questions and help people get signed up:
Applications are being accepted through October 28th. To apply click here.