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Sparta Police Continue To Struggle With Hiring Officers, Working On Strategy

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Sparta Police Continue To Struggle With Hiring Officers, Working On Strategy

Sparta Police Chief Nick Dunn said the city continues to struggle to bring in new officers.

Dunn said he is having to hire uncertified officers, which puts the new recruits a year out before they can be on the streets. Dunn said pay is another big issue keeping them from hiring, because the city cannot compete with state trooper pay. He said the national media has also hurt the image of being a police officer, and that is a difficult narrative to change.

“We do a lot of public relations,” Dunn said. “We do a lot of community events just to get people to understand what we do especially in a small town. It’s a whole lot different in a small town than it is in a big town. You’re kind of a closer knit community.”

Dunn said he is working closely with Mayor Jerry Lowery and the Sparta Board of Aldermen to solve the hiring issue. Dunn said he would like to have four officers on every shift. In order to do that, he needs to hire four more officers.

“With our city we got a time frame usually when it starts getting busy,” Dunn said. “By busy I mean just calls start coming in. Anywhere from about 11 to one O’clock depending on the time of year calls start coming in. In an ideal situation you’d have three officers on each shift and a couple mid shifts.”

Dunn said he has one K9 unit right now. He said he would like another K9 so both shifts have a unit.

“It’s not just us,” Dunn said. “It’s everybody. It’s all over the state. It’s allover the country. People are having an issue. Nobody wants to get into this job right now. I appreciate the mayor and board of alderman listening to me, and I’m glad they’re willing to look at this with me and figure out what we can do to get staffed and protect the city.”

Dunn said he realized how bad the need for more officers was when he responded to a hostile situation back in October.

“There were shots fired,” Dunn said. “We got shot at. Me specifically and another officer, and a very few minutes later the suspect ran through the woods and came out closer to the roadway and us and the sheriffs department took him into custody without incident.”

Dunn said there was no available city police to call in for help. The White County Sheriffs Department came in as back up.

“If the sheriffs office hadn’t been there, it’s untelling what could have happened,” Dunn said. “I had two officers on the road at that point and me and another officer were working a public event, Liberty Square. The call came out. We heard it, and we rushed over there. That’s when everything went kind of sideways, but it worked out in the end.”


The post Sparta Police Continue To Struggle With Hiring Officers, Working On Strategy appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.