The Moab Police Department is looking for five new officer, with Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder looking for three brand new officers to send to the academy, and two experienced officers to come on as laterals to instill what he calls “a healthy balance on the force.”
According to Winder, cities and counties across the nation are dealing with major difficulties when it comes to staffing their agencies. Moab is no different and the department is looking to bring on new officers to relieve its overworked staff.
Staffing a police department, however, is a lot more difficult than simply hiring for most other jobs, Winder added. There are essentially two ways new officers are indoctrinated —hiring brand new “uncertified” recruits with no experience, and what is known as a lateral hire. A lateral hire consists of hiring an experienced officer from a different agency in Utah, or often times from a different state entirely.
Both of these options present unique challenges, as neither hiring option can fill vacancies immediately — and Winder is looking to bring in both fresh recruits and experienced officers in the coming months.
On new recruits, he said “To hire that individual, you put them through a very robust hiring process, they then go to the police academy, which is about 14 to 16 weeks. Then, they come back for another six to eight weeks of (training), so all in all, you’re training a person like that for six months before they are able to handle calls on their own.”
Not only is the hiring process for new recruits lengthy, but it is an expensive venture as well. Winder added that new hires also come with the inherent risk of uncertainty, as only time can tell if being a police officer is a good fit for them, and that they in turn are a good fit for the community. Another problem facing potential candidates is the lack of certifying college programs for potential officers in Moab.
When it comes to lateral hires, a notice is advertised stating that a department is looking for certified police officers that have at least some experience on a beat.
The officers Winder is looking for, he said, may either be from in or out of the state of Utah, which can also present various challenges as well as various rewards.
“What these individuals would have to do is take a written test that shows they know the laws (in Utah), that they’ve been through an academy and they’ve worked for a period of time,” Winder said. Officers then must pass a written and physical test before the state of Utah will waive their academy training.
This blend of outward experience and locality could prove to be a vital mix, Winder added, as an officer with several years of experience could bring a number of valuable assets to the force, while a recruit from Moab or the region could bring a fresh set of eyes to the force, which could help shed light on issues specific to Moab that others may overlook.
For more information, call the City of Moab Human Resources at 435-259-2683, or visit the city website at moabcity.org and click the Employment Portal tab.