Spokane Sheriff’s Office struggles with recruitment, looking out-of-state

SPOKANE, Wash. — Since last July, the Portland Police Department has reportedly had more than 100 officers leave the force. That’s led the Spokane Sheriff’s Office to advertise in that area, using billboards to get the word out on their openings.

Law enforcement agencies recruiting in other regions and states isn’t new, according to Sherriff Ozzie Knezovich. This year alone the Spokane Sheriff’s Office has allocated $140,000 towards recruitment, and the billboards seen in Portland can also be found in the Seattle and Denver areas.

Currently the office has 40 available positions open, the department is allocated to have around 230. The Sheriff says it’s difficult to find qualified applicants in the Spokane Metropolitan Area. He’s put up the recruiting billboards in Portland following a mass exodus from the Police Department after protests have gone on for almost a year now.

“We’re all competing for the same people and we’re all competing for officers that are looking to leave jurisdictions that have shown that they really do value their law enforcement so this is a national issue,” said Knezovich.

The Sheriff says the local community is supportive of law enforcement, however there aren’t enough qualified people applying compared to years ago. He also adds the protests seen last summer is not a national shift in public perception of police.

“On a national level, law enforcement is viewed very highly by the public– take a look at the ‘Defund’ effort; only 16% of this country actually bought into that,” he said.

But a national poll from the Data for Progress and The Lab released Thursday says otherwise. They found 65% of likely voters support reallocating some law enforcement budgets to support non-police first responder programs.

Another reason why the Sheriff’s Office is looking elsewhere is officers can take up to 18 months to complete all of the training required. Hiring experienced people helps saves almost a year of time, and saves time.

The Sheriff says the billboards have only been up for a month and several people have contacted the office regarding the openings, but he does not know where they are from.