Muskogee City Council Approves $15,000 Bonus For Cleet Certified Officers To Join Muskogee PD

Muskogee City Council Approves $15,000 Bonus For Cleet Certified Officers To Join Muskogee PD

Police departments all over the country, including Oklahoma, are struggling to hire officers. Muskogee Police was already offering a $10,000 sign on bonus to try to recruit officers. On Monday, the city council unanimously approved upping that to $15,000. 

Lieutenant Jarad Forbes says his biggest fear is one of his officers getting hurt because there's not enough to provide backup. 

He says his patrol team is sometimes cut in half, with only four officers on the streets, to handle 100 calls or more in a shift. 

Forbes has been with Muskogee Police for 13 years and is a patrol supervisor. He sees daily what it means for the department to be short-staffed. 

"Those days, there are the potential for officer safety issues," he said. "There's calls that are not being given the proper amount of attention, and then, you know, you're also just kind of burning the guys out."

Chief Johnny Teehee has been in law enforcement for decades and has never seen it this hard to hire officers before. 

His department will be down 10 officers by August and that means, he’ll have to pull officers from other divisions.

"It's going to affect all of those where they will have to rotate into patrol which lessens the ability for them, what we would like for them, to be doing," Teehee said.

He says many of his officers leave to join other agencies like OHP, Broken Arrow and Tulsa because those agencies are also getting creative in their recruiting efforts. He hopes the $15,000 bonus will help his department hire quality men and women, fast. 

"You try to find ways and reasons for them to stay when it comes down to money and the kind of money difference between us highway patrol and those bigger agencies in the Tulsa area, you just can’t compete with that," said Teehee. 

Forbes says the money is a big step in the right direction, but he also thinks Muskogee offers people something they can't get in the bigger cities, like a sense of belonging and making a difference. 

"I live in this community, I feel like I'm a part of this community, and I feel like I'm a part of this department, and I don't want to lose that going somewhere else just for more money," said Forbes. 

They say it's getting harder to find people who want to be in this career with all the recent national criticism, but they say this is a great job for people who want to serve others in their greatest hour of need.