COVINGTON, Ga. - After six Georgia officers have been shot and two killed within a manner of days, law enforcement leaders are speaking out, concerned about the repercussions of the wave of violence on current law enforcement and future officers.
"We see applications down, but it is not uncommon you see 20 to 25 percent vacancies in departments," said Frank Rotondo, the Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
He said many metro and Georgia departments are already dealing with a drop in applicants, but a number of veteran officers are choosing to leave their force, or find jobs that never require them to patrol the streets, due to increasing dangers of the job.
"Family responsibility is usually first on their minds. If they have noticed that a lot of their colleagues are being victims of crimes and assaults, why not leave?" he said, as criminals have gained more access to weapons and assault rifles, and are more willing to use them on officers.
Rotondo suggests, while boosts in pay can help increase officer retention, an increase in training in conflict resolution and diffusion of tense situations will lessen an officers' need for use of force.
Other new recruits hope to buck the trend of dwindling applicants.
"I feel like it's a very important profession. I feel like it's a really good way to serve and be amongst the community," said Timothy Walker, who graduated Tuesday night from Georgia Piedmont Technical College's Law Enforcement Academy, located at their Covington-area campus.
He said, as some departments around Georgia struggle to recruit minorities, he hopes he can help influence communities to have better relationships with officers and not fear joining the profession.
"There's a lot of good in it too- to see a person's face, and [them] say, 'You did a good job today,'", Walker said.