Dubuque Police Department taking steps to address police officer shortage amid declining applications

The Dubuque Police Department is taking steps to try to attract more people into a career in law enforcement at the department.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 8:52 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Dubuque Police Department says the number of applications they receive for officers continues to decline. For that reason, they are taking steps to try to recruit and retain officers before staffing shortages impact services.

Lieutenant Ted McClimon said the department is budgeted for 113 sworn officers, but currently only has 96. He mentioned ten years ago, the department would receive more than 200 applications for police officers, but last year they received less than 70.

”It could be national events change people into wanting to get into law enforcement, just people taking different career paths,” he mentioned regarding why less people are looking at a career in law enforcement.

Even though staffing shortages have not affected services yet, Lieutenant McClimon said the department is taking steps to ensure things never get to that point. That includes offering two chances at testing to join the department per year, instead of just one.

”Another thing we did this spring is we offered two practice tests,” he said. “So applicants that are interested, they can come in and take the physical agility test just to see where they would be and then it gives them something to work for if they did not pass. If they did pass we would use those passing numbers for their testing.”

McClimon also mentioned they are offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus to certified officers that come to the Dubuque Police Department from another department.

The lieutenant explained staffing shortages and a decline in applications mean those officers already on the force have to carry more weight to ensure services are not affected.

“Some of the specialty units may be reassigned back to patrol or less in a certain division to make sure our patrol spots are filled as best we can,” he added. “We may have guys who work later come in earlier to fill spots where we have coverage due to staffing levels being a little bit lower.”

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