PALMETTO, Fla. - The Palmetto Police Department has become a revolving door of officers.
Chief Scott Tyler says it's frustrating to see new officers be trained and then leave just a few years later. Right now, he has three positions to fill with a staff of 35 sworn officers. He's having a hard time finding new hires.
“For every five applications we get in, for one reason or another, those applicants may not be a good fit. Maybe about 20% of the applicants I get are... somebody I wouldn’t feel comfortable hiring," said Chief Tyler.
He says officers from his agency are leaving for better pay and other opportunities at larger agencies, like the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
"The officers are leaving, [they] say it’s a great place to work, but when they don’t have to move their family, change their kids to another school, but they can make several, sometimes several thousand, up to 10,000 a year, they’re gonna go," he said.
Palmetto PD's starting salary -- $45,000 -- is the lowest in the Bay Area for law enforcement officers.
Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells knows the struggle. He was once the chief of Palmetto police.
"I know exactly what Chief Tyler is going through now. When I was there, we lost three or four that I remember, to the St. Pete Police Department," Wells recalled.
As the leader of the largest law enforcement agency in Manatee County, Sheriff Wells said they've had to get creative to attract new hires. MSO now recruits, sponsors and pays applicants through their training academy.
"It gives them some buy-in. It makes them feel good about the fact that they are already employed, they just need to get through the academy and entire process," said Sheriff Wells.
Sheriff Wells said there's still a high interest in law enforcement jobs, but benefits and higher pay can lure applicants away, in this case from Palmetto police.
"Until that pay is addressed, they will continue to be a training ground for other agencies," said Sheriff Wells.
To apply for a position with Palmetto police visit https://www.palmettofl.org/1311/Apply-For