ORLANDO, Fla. - Corporal Kasey Jennett has worked on the Orlando Police Department (OPD) recruitment team for more than three years. She says finding people who want to be officers is getting harder. While staff shortages are being seen nationwide, she says safety can’t be undercut.
"We’ve been to California, Milwaukee, we’ve been to Texas and Georgia. We are just increasing our efforts in colleges, looking for college athletes, looking for more women," Jennett added.
OPD said there are currently about 850 officers on the force and the agency is looking to hire 88 more.
"We definitely need to get that filled ASAP. The city is increasing in size as well, so we have to keep up with that, and people retire."
The department is creating social media campaigns targeting veterans and recently held a career fair. It is also committing to make women 30% of their recruitment class by the year 2030.
Nikole Terenzi is a recent police graduate who used to work as a make-up artist.
"In my personal life, I experienced a lot of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, those kinds of things. DCF was always present. Law enforcement was always at the house. So I knew it was a calling," she said.
The team here says a retail background actually helps.
"Customer service is the number one thing. That is what we do. We deal with the public, we help," said Sargent Raul Zayas.
While Orlando Police said aggressive on-boarding has helped, they continue to scout for recruits.
"We have larger academy classes coming up and larger orientation classes with people who are officers from other agencies that are coming to us, so the numbers are increasing," said Jennett.