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From low pay to intense public scrutiny to sudden death by a sniper’s bullet, police nationally are facing major challenges to their public service.

But, of all the challenges police departments face now, some say at the top of the list is finding and holding onto new officers.

“We have absolutely had challenges both attracting and retaining officers,” said Joshua Police Chief Shaun Short.

With two openings in the Cleburne Police Department, Chief Rob Severance is looking forward to the possibility his department will pick up some new recruits through its Answer the Call entry level exam set for 8 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Cleburne Senior Center, 1212 Glenwood Drive.

One of the two officer openings was approved recently by the Cleburne City Council, Severance said.

Once the two openings are filled that will give the department 55 sworn officers, along with 20 non-sworn support personnel, which includes dispatchers, records clerks and crime scene technicians.

In addition to the two open positions, Severance said he expects in the next few months some officers will retire.

“About one-third of our officers have 20-plus years of service and are eligible to retire,” he said. “This means we may be looking to hire more than two recruits from our Dec. 17 police entry exam.”

Availability of trained cadets proved one resource affecting recruiting until Johnson County partnered with Navarro College in Corsicana in 2015 to develop the first police academy in the county since Hill College discontinued its program. In June, the academy graduated its first class of 25.

This first class was sponsored by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and was set up with the intention of giving law enforcement the opportunity to recruit locally, Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford said when the class was established.

Short said the Joshua department looked at that class, as well as graduates from other academies, in its search for recruits. The department recently hired two new officers, Tony Buchanan, a former Dallas police officer; and David Gonzales, a recent Weatherford Police Academy graduate.

According to a report in Police Chief magazine, a publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, recruiting officers is a top challenge nationwide.

“This issue has the potential to overshadow nearly all other considerations,” according to the article.

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