Capital Region police departments desperate to hire new recruits

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CAPITAL REGION (NEWS10) – Your local police department is looking for a few good men and women. But the number of eager recruits willing to stand on the Thin Blue Line is dwindling.

Lt. Bob Winn, of the Colonie Police Department, says he is seeing fewer people taking the civil service exam. And even if they pass all their initial tests, too many have a change of heart.

“Whether they’ve got another police job somewhere else or they have decided it’s no longer a job they want to seek,” he said.

He says one reason is that officers are under more scrutiny than ever before. For example, in April, an Albany Police officer was arrested and two others suspended after an alleged assault on two black men. And there have been other violent encounters captured by bystanders.

Troy PBA President Nicholas Laviano says fear of the public’s negative perception of officers is causing reluctance among good candidates.

“You are seeing that officers or potential officers that could be coming on the job are now reluctant to join this career because they don’t want to become the next YouTube sensation.”

But, the union president adds that there’s another issue: Pay.

“Right now, starting salary of $40,000 is just not going to cut it for a police officer.”

While in contract negotiations, Laviano recently blasted the city administration for leaving several vacancies on the force. The mayor’s office responded by saying they have confidence the chief of police will bring in new hires.

But, where will they come from? Rocco Fragimeni heads up the Zone 5 Training Academy. His staff trains recruits who have already been hired by a law enforcement agency. NEWS10 reporter Anya Tucker asked Fragimeni how his training can help change that perception. Frangimeni answered by saying, “Certainly good service changes perception every day of the week.”

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