ARDMORE, Okla. -- It’s their job to keep the community safe but now one local police department is having troubles of their own. Ardmore Police say they're having a hard time recruiting officers.
Ardmore Police officials say they're lucky to get one or even two applicants a week. Now they're looking at new options to try and fill up their employment pool.
Ardmore Police Chief Dave Leonardo says his force needs 56 officers to effectively serve the community. Right now they only have 50 officers on the streets.
It’s a lack of help that Leonardo says could pose a problem.
"People have to wait longer for a fender bender accident or a shop lifter call break in or stolen property before we can take the report," the chief says.
While the department only has six open positions, human resources director Lee Ann Collins says the bigger problem is that no one is applying for those positions, and they don't know why.
A recent report compared Ardmore officers' average salary to that of police in other cities in the state including some Oklahoma City suburbs like Yukon and Dell City. Ardmore’s average is about $45,000, almost $4,000 more than comparison cities.
Collins says she hopes those dollar figures will attract future officers to the department.
"The cost of living in other areas is higher than we have now, so when people decide they want to be a police officer they need to decide what area they need to be in," she says.
Besides offering more benefits, the city modified the requirements to become an officer six months ago, putting less emphasis on physical qualifications.
"You don’t have to be in great shape. You have to be able to run, do sit ups, some things people do struggle with."
The city is also looking outside Ardmore to bring in more candidates.
"Police officers really do service the vast majority of their time enforcement is really a small part critical elemen,t but small part of our job," Leonardo says.
Chief Leonardo says becoming an officer is very rigorous but he’s glad to say he has two officers in training. He would like to see more join what he calls a “great department.”