Houston is not the only city experiencing a shortage of police officers. Budget cuts and retirements are weighing heavily on departments across the nation.
Dr. Alex Del Carmen, executive director for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Tarleton State University, says not only are retirements impacting large metro areas to small towns, but public perception of police has changed.
“We had the incident in Ferguson and verious other incidents across the United States which led people to develop a certain degree of suspicion or scrutiny about policing,” he says.
And he says social media has put even more pressure on an already stressful job.
“Most of our opinions are formulated through Hollywood or the shows we watch at night which really glamorize police work and do not pay attention to the realities of what an officer undergoes on a daily basis,” he says.
Montgomery County Sheriff's Lt. Kieth Funderburk says his department, along with others across Texas, are constantly trying to meet a growing demand under tight budget restrictions.
“No matter how many positions are approved, you still have to fill them, and you have to have qualified applicants to fill them,” he says.
Katy Mayor Chuck Brawner says his city has been fortunate enough to plan ahead and gets by with a police force of just 60.
“Retirements of your seasoned officers and trying to replace those, plus keeping up with the population growth can be a challenging factor,” says Brawner.
The biggest issue he says is finding qualified applicants to fill those posts.
Sugar Land recently annexed Greatwood and New Territory, but a city spokesperson says the city hired the officers needed prior to annexation and were fully trained and on the streets on day one.