SBPD could reach full staff by summer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend Police Department could be reaching a major milestone sooner than expected.
“It’s looking like the summer of this year that we’ll be fully staffed,” said Mayor James Mueller.
Based on hiring trends, Mueller had previously expected the benchmark to be achieved in the latter part of 2023.
The department was at 243 officers in summer 2019. But, factoring the impact of the pandemic plus other national incidents, numbers dwindled to as low as 209 officers last summer.
Currently, South Bend Police is at 231 officers, with another 16 set to soon graduate and be sworn in in March.
“You all can do the math: unless we have 10 to 12 individuals suddenly retire between February and March, we’re going to be back at - or over that - 243 that we had in the summer of 2019,” remarked Assistant Chief Dan Skibins.
Another positive trend the department is seeing is more diversity, hiring more persons of color and women. Skibins credits the boost to SBPD’s younger officers of diverse backgrounds who have been successful at recruiting events.
And at this rate, Skibins says they could be at national averages in the next couple years.
“... which is more in the 14 percent for African American; 12 percent for female; and 10 percent for Hispanics. So we’re well on our way to getting back to where we should be. That is not our overall goal: it is to be better than other departments in the country. And we’ll continue to work at that,” added Skibins.
SBPD points to a better wage package for increasing the number of hires as well as “prospect days.” In one day, a prospective officer can do 80 percent of their testing and schedule additional evaluations.
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