FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- Businesses aren't the only ones struggling to fill open positions these days.
Law enforcement agencies from local police to the DNR and the FBI are posting "help wanted" signs on social media to try to attract candidates.
"This is tough, the job is tough. There's a lot of education in there, there's a lot of physical and there's a lot of mental toughness that you just have to have. And we want our officers to be well-rounded," Captain Sofia Rosales-Scatena said.
She heads the Fort Wayne police department's new recruiting team that aims to find qualified candidates from all kinds of ages, backgrounds, and education levels.
She says because the economy has been good the past several years, there's been a significant decrease in applicants.
And with the department down about 20 officers right now because of retirements, there's a real push to hire a large, diverse police academy class that can relate to fort wayne and its citizens including some high school and college graduates who may have never considered policing as a career.
"People always tell us the department needs to reflect the community and we want that, as well. But we have to have people from the community step up. So you can't just point a finger at us and tell us we need to do better, you need to be part of us doing better. So the onus is on people to put their applications in," she said.
She says about half the last academy class came from under-represented groups like women and minorities, and she hopes that will continue especially because a new law this year raises the maximum age for applying from 35 to 39.
"I know policing has taken some hits because of some bad apples, but certainly that's not the majority of policing. Policing is a noble profession.," said Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Joe Jordan.
Jordan serves on the city's Commission on Police Reform Rand Racial Justice.
He says leaders in under-represented communities should promote policing as a positive career, and says it helps to plant the idea early.
"I've seen it first hand, the interaction between officers and kids and how those relationships and bonds are built. And these kids are getting positive experiences early on around policing. They see people beyond the uniform," he said.
The department will launch an app in the next few weeks where candidates can directly apply for the academy or ask to talk with a recruiter, who can mentor candidates through the application process to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
To learn more about the requirements and application process for becoming a Fort Wayne police officer, go to this website and click on the Now Hiring icon on the right side of the page.