More troopers on the road, other agencies still face hiring hurdles

As more state troopers join the ranks, other agencies still face hiring hurdles

As more state troopers join the ranks, other agencies still face hiring hurdles

It was graduation day for more than 30 new troopers soon to be patrolling and helping fill a growing need for law enforcement in Minnesota.

“It’s exciting to see these new troopers be up there,” Lt. Jill Frankfurth with the Minnesota State Patrol said, adding that this graduating class of 35 troopers will help keep their current staffing stability.

“We’ve got room to add troopers to our ranks. But right now [we’re] keeping steady,” she continued.

But many other agencies are not in that boat. In fact, some industry leaders say it’s dire.

“We’re in a crisis right now,” Jim Mortenson, executive director with Law Enforcement Labor Services, said.

“We’re down about over 1,000 police officers in the state of Minnesota,” he added.

Well aware of the current hiring hurdles, Mortenson says one of the biggest challenges is the small pool of people applying.

He added that with the number of agencies hiring, it makes it that much more difficult — especially for those competing with larger departments with higher pay and better benefits.

“There’s 408 law enforcement agencies in the state of Minnesota, and 208 of them are trying to hire,” Mortenson said.

And to pile on, he says that most of those agencies are also working hard to retain their with many retirements expected soon.

“It worries me a lot,” Mortenson said about the around 2,500 law enforcement officers eligible to retire.

When asked if there are a lot of officers on the St. Paul Police Department close to retirement, Public Information Officer Alyssa Arcand said there are “quite a few.”

She also said that the department is down more than 50 officers.

“We are recruiting heavily,” Acrand said, adding, “We have a full-time recruitment sergeant.”

One unique way they’re doing that is by being the first department in the state to partner with the Minnesota National Guard, creating an avenue for veterans to join the force in the capital city.

At the Capitol, Mortenson says there’s legislation moving forward they’re calling the “re-employment bill” — if passed, if would allow law enforcement to retire at 55 with their full pension, and then come back to their agency to also receive a salary.  

“We’ve got to do some out-of-the-box ideas,” Mortenson said. “We got to get this done.”