Texoma police departments work to retain officers - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Texoma police departments work to retain officers

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Anna's police chief says the department's culture is the key to retaining officers. (KTEN) Anna's police chief says the department's culture is the key to retaining officers. (KTEN)
Police officers in Van Alstyne are getting a raise next year. (KTEN) Police officers in Van Alstyne are getting a raise next year. (KTEN)

GRAYSON COUNTY, Texas -- Police departments across North Texas are working on improvements, hoping to retain more officers.

Many departments have lost officers to larger cities to our south  that offer better pay.

"If we don't have employees... patrolmen to patrol... then there is no patrol," said Van Alstyne police Chief Tim Barnes. "It comes down to a safety issue."

With improvements to the national economy some law enforcement officials say people just don't want to be cops anymore.

"Right now it's difficult to find police officers that want to come and work for a police department, let alone work for an agency that doesn't pay near as much as  -- let's say McKinney, Frisco, Prosper -- for example," said Anna police Chief Jeff Caponera.

Departments agree that they would never sacrifice the quality of the officer to have more presence on the streets.

"Integrity is number one in law enforcement," said Denison Police Department spokesman Lt. Mike Eppler. "If we start comprising that integrity in any way, then where does it stop?"

Many police departments in North Texas answer tens of thousands of calls for service every year, but some are only staffed with 8 to fifteen people.

In some cities, each officer alone can answer close to 1,000 calls a year. Some departments say they could use more than 10 additional officers.

"It costs us money when we lose employees," Chief Barnes said. "Not just the amount physically that it costs us; their knowledge of the community and the people knowing them."

So what can these departments offer to keep their employees in North Texas?

"The culture; that, to me, is key," Chief Caponera said. "If you've got a good strong culture, people will want to come work for you. They may not care as much about the money as being happy."

Each department is making tangible improvements as well. Anna police recently upgraded to all new vehicles, and it's working on a step pay program to reward longevity on the force.

"To our cars, to our vision, to our mission statements, everything was done by the officers," the Anna chief said. "It helps gives them that buy-in, and it gives them a sense of ownership of the police department. It's not just my department, it's their department."

Last week, the Van Alstyne City Council approved a police salary increase for next year.

"They realized that we needed to move up to competitive pay, so they unanimously approved a new pay scale," Barnes said.

Sherman Police Department headquarters is getting a $4.1 million renovation in the next fiscal year.

Each department says as their community grows, they will continue to push toward growing with them.

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