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Congressman Greg Landsman introduces bill aiming to alleviate police staffing issues

Greg Landsman
Posted at 4:43 PM, May 17, 2023

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Help could be coming to local police departments thanks to a bill introduced by Congressman Greg Landsman Tuesday.

HR 3376 proposes changes to the Department of Justice's COPS Hiring Program grants.

“We wanted to make sure they were sufficiently flexible so that folks could use them for bonuses. Recruitment bonuses, retention bonuses. We know that makes a big difference in terms of filling recruit classes and getting staffing levels up," Landsman said.

The bill would also make it easier to apply for the grants by allowing departments to make adjustments to a previously submitted application, rather than having to submit a new one each year. They would only have to submit a new application once every five years.

This is all in an effort to alleviate some of the staffing and recruiting challenges departments across the country, including the Middletown Police Department, are facing.

"The last test we had, I think we had 11 show up to the test. I think 9 passed. I remember when I took the test, we had 350," said Middletown Police Chief David Birk.

He said other chiefs in the Tr-State he's talked to are facing similar challenges. The Cincinnati Police Department has cited similar problems.

"I think the sign-on bonuses, retention, those are all great things, but finding the right candidate is the key for all departments," Birk said.

This is something he said has become harder over the last few years.

"First of all, finding people to apply, finding qualified people to apply, people who want to get into this line of work and then everybody's fighting over the same candidates," Birk said.

The Middletown Police Department has already made some changes, hoping to make becoming a police officer more attractive to younger people. This includes allowing facial hair and tattoos.

He said other chiefs have made similar changes, all hoping to increase the applicant pool.