Coast Feels National Police Crunch - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast Feels National Police Crunch

About a dozen of the officers enrolled at the law enforcement academy have been in the profession only about a year. They say they signed up because they want to help people, not get rich.

"Whenever I get my paycheck, I realize why there's a nationwide shortage. The pay's not great, but once you get in you love your job, you enjoy to get up and go to work everyday, and that's why I do it, " says Jeremy Skinner of the Waveland Police Department.

"Everything we have to go through is very strenuous, and a lot of people just don't realize the hard work we put into it," Wilkinson County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher James said. "We dedicate most of our lives to law enforcement."

Ocean Springs Chief Kerry Belk says the nationwide crunch for police officers is nothing new. Low pay and tougher educational requirements are not strong incentives.

"I think a lot of these young people are going through college and getting out and saying 'I spent all this time getting an education, I'm not going to waste it in some cases on a low paying job like law enforcement,' and they go into different areas," Belk said.

Ocean Springs has 32 sworn officers on the job. The chief says it would be great to have a dozen more.

"It's the pace that officers have to keep on a day to day basis. It would take off some of the pressure, and I believe they'd be able to do their job more effectively... with a few more officers."

Pass Christian Chief John Dubuisson says a department never has enough officers, but you can only have as many as you can afford.

By Marcia Hill

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