KILLEEN, Texas - The Killeen Police Department is struggling to recruit more officers.
There are currently 24 vacancies within the department. This shortage is putting a strain on the remaining 200+ officers working.
Police Chief Charles Kimball says it has been difficult retaining officers.
"Nationwide, what's been happening with officers intentionally being targeted for violence - if you have other choices besides law enforcement, people are exercising those. So it's just, we have to change our recruiting strategy," Kimball says. "With 24 vacancies, having authorized strength of 236, we may have less detectives. We may have people doing less support roles."
Kimball says he's making it a priority to keep an ample amount of officers on the street. For the past couple of months, he's been rotating staff to fill patrol officer positions temporarily.
This news is not sitting well with local homeowner Kat Mullivhill.
"It's rough to hear that, because not only does it make it harder for the citizen to feel like they're taken care of, but it puts more stress on the officers we currently have," Mullivhill said.
Hiring and retaining officers has long been an issue for KPD. The police chief says one of the biggest problems is getting people interested in the field.
Officers say they are using social media and community outreach as a way to push more locals to join the force.
"I'm confident we'll fill our vacancies. I can say that our service to the citizens and our safety to the officers are first and foremost," Kimball said.
Kimball says the department has nine potential officers in police academy training right now.
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