To combat 'crisis', St. Louis police implementing recruiting pla - KMOV.com

To combat 'crisis', St. Louis police implementing recruiting plan

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(Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images) (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

It's being called a crisis. The Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department is losing officers at an alarming rate.

Police are now working to fight crime and recruit at the same time that they see as many as six officers leaving each month.

The police chief Sam Dotson and attorney general Chris Koster have been going on recruitment trips at Metro High school, the chief's alma mater. It's kind of like a job fair and the goal is to create a pipeline from the high school that would eventually lead to serving the community at the police department.

"Showing the benefits of being a police officer to our class really could influence a lot of our class members to join the police force," student Dylan Bess said.

Dotson says people are leaving his department for a variety of reasons, from retirement to better paying jobs.

"We are 104 police officers short of our authorized strength and I lose about two to three officers per pay period. That is four to six officers a month," Dotson said.

But there's another factor, Koster says what happened in Ferguson in 2014 highlighted a need.

"You have a community that is 70 percent African-American and a police force that is 96 percent white and tensions grew up in that community around these issues," Koster said.

Senior Alexis Gorden adds, "when police are saying we are a part of your community, it should reflect who I am and I  should see somebody like me on the force," she says.

Making his force more diverse is a top priority for Dotson. Through these talks, he hopes to make a career in law enforcement more appealing.

"If you really want to be important in your neighborhood, change the communication that is going on, if you want to make sure our community is safe, we have a police department that reflects the community that we are serving, this is your chance," Dotson said.

His message is getting through.

"Seeing them from a more light-hearted perspective was good so that people don't feel less tense around police because of recent events in Saint Louis and Ferguson," Gordon said.  

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