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Law enforcement agencies face officer shortage

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Many police departments are facing a labor shortage and having a hard time finding police recruits. Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said the shortage could put the entire community's safety at risk.

Anderson said they've got to find a way to get more officers into the department, but the key is getting them to stay. He said its a shared problem across the state.

Northport Police Officer Anna Randall said she wouldn't change her job for anything.

"You feel like you're not making that much of a difference because you're dealing with the same stuff frequently," Randall said, "But then you have that one call, and it makes all the other stuff where you didn't think you were making an impact...it makes it all worth it."

Departments across West Alabama can't seem to keep officers on board.

Anderson said it costs about $100,000 to get an officer hired, trained and equipped in the first year. He called it "demoralizing" to the department when they quit so soon.

"You have to have a willingness to help people and a need to help the community you're serving," Anderson said, "If you don't have that, you're not cut out to be a police officer."

Anderson said the shortage puts everyone's safety at risk.

"It affects our response time to calls, it affects out ability to be proactive."

Randall said overworking had the potential to be even more dangerous.

"It gets to the point where you might not be noticing the things you would if you had your good off time."

The Tuscaloosa Police Department said they were 20 officers short. Northport Police Department said they needed six or seven more officers to be fully staffed.

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