St. Johnsbury P.D. Struggles to Recruit

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of ThumbnailTemplateDONOTSAVEOVER copy 2ST. JOHNSBURY - According to St. Johnsbury Police Chief, Tim Page, police departments across the country are struggling to recruit new officers. He credits the difficulty to a number of factors, but highlights the media's negative spotlight on the industry.

Page acknowledges the fact that mistakes are made, but would never discredit the line of work as a whole. "The job has a human aspect to it. Everyone makes mistakes," he stated. Going on to discuss the importance of acting professionally, and doing the best that you can in every situation.

When asked how he reacts to the scrutiny, he stated that it's not necessarily a bad thing. "I think it's a matter of officers being confident that they know how to do their job, and that they're doing the right things. As long as we're professional and informed about current laws, you're fine. You need to be cognoscente of your surroundings."

Page went on to discuss the other prominent factor that makes hiring new officers difficult, and that's the lengthy induction process. It takes about a year for an applicant to become an official officer, and that often turns potential candidates away. "It's a hard job. Not everyone can do it so we look for the best people we can."

The police chief went on to note the hard work of his current team, "My guys and girls - my officers, I can't say enough about them. They do a great job. They've been pitching in and covering every shift. They're doing a great job keeping the community safe. I'm awful proud of them."

Page hopes to fill a couple of positions in the foreseeable future, and something that may entice them is the department's upcoming $150,000 equipment upgrade. They will be purchasing new body cameras, tasers, and two new cruisers. According to Page, the new gear has been a looming necessity for quite some time.

"The cruiser fleet was pretty bismal when I got here. We had several vehicles over 120 thousand miles," he continued. Our current tasers were old, outdated, and in need of replacement. So this is a program that brings us new equipment with replacement equipment in five years."

Approximately $82,000 worth of the budget for the new equipment is coming from a USDA Community Facilities Grant, while the remaining balance will be matched with  money taken from the town's Special Services Fund. "All in all, we spent a little bit of money to get a lot of stuff for the town. So it was a great opportunity for us," said Page.

He went on to discuss his excitement for the new gear, stating that the up-to-date equipment will allow the department to provide optimal service for the town. "That's our lifeline. The cruiser is our lifeline, and it's the citizens' lifeline. We have to get there in order to help them. And we have to be able to get to these places quickly."

When asked why the department hadn't made these changes sooner, Page said the delay was due to money. "It's always a money issue. Towns are having problems funding their police departments and fire departments. It gets more expensive every year because of technology, and I understand that. So we're trying to look to the future and do things incrementally so it's not such a burden on tax payers."

Page hopes to have the new gear within the next couple of months.

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