Roswell having trouble retaining police officers

Created: 04/17/2014 6:19 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Recruiting officers is a challenge right now for many police departments across New Mexico.

But in Roswell, the police chief is focused on keeping the officers that he already has.

“I've seen a lot of guys come and go in the last five years,” said Roswell Police Officer Michael Fry.  “Some that I really wish I could save because they were really good officers, and they'd be awesome to have for the next 15 years until they are able to retire."

Roswell Police Chief Phil Smith says officers are taking jobs in bigger cities that offer a higher pay.

“We want to keep our officers here; we want to keep them attracted to Roswell.   We want to keep their families attracted to Roswell," said Smith.

Chief Smith thinks he has a way to keep officers around.

Under the chief’s proposal, if an officer stays for three years on the force, has a bachelor’s degree, and passes a physical exam, they could be eligible for an 8% raise.

If an officer doesn’t have a degree, they wouldn’t be eligible for that raise until they worked for the department for seven years.

“I want to keep these officers that we train.  We take a lot of pride in who we pick, the criteria is stringent.  And we want to keep them,” said Smith.

“It’s hard to get used to people and train them the right way and be able to go to calls together and work properly when you're constantly wondering if the new person is going to know what's going on," said Fry.

Chief Smith thinks this incentive will help Roswell compete.

“Some things are going to be out of our control, but this is something we think, we, myself, the city administrators and the staff here think we can get a handle on it," said Smith.

“They treat us well here, there's really no reason to leave," said Fry.

City councilors are expected to discuss the chief’s plan next month.

It’s not clear when they will vote on it.

But the chief hopes to have the incentives in place by next year.

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