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LPD looks at recruiting efforts

The LaGrange Police department is joining a state and nationwide effort to recruit more officers.

According to LaGrange Chief of Police Louis Dekmar, police stations across the nation, including the LPD, are facing challenges with recruiting officers.

“Generally, a specific challenge is the economy, which is on fire, and as a result there are a lot of options for people that want to explore different careers,” Dekmar said. “In addition, the whole notion of service, which is what policing is…90% of what we do has nothing to do with arresting folks.”

According to Dekmar, a majority of what LPD is involved in is mediation, problem solving, and helping people that are experiencing a trouble or trauma. The LPD also serves as a community resource for public or state assistance.

Dekmar said that as IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) president he has also seen other countries facing the same recruiting problem.

“We have seen a significant decrease in those experiences that young people have during the course of becoming young adults as it relates to the service,” Dekmar said. “A generation or two ago you had significant more activity in scouting, FFA, 4-H and church groups. Feedback I get from many of those organizations is the interest is diminished to such degree that a lot of those programs are no longer offered, or they’ve been significantly reduced.”

To help combat some of the recruitment problems, the The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has released three PSAs featuring hometown heroes in various community.

One of these PSA’s included LPD’s very own, Sgt. Monica Peterson.

Peterson was born and raised in LaGrange. After serving in the military, Peterson chose to come back to LaGrange and serve her community.

“I felt really blessed that they chose me,” Peterson said. “It was beyond imaginable to have somebody like that come out and want to talk to me.”

The video spotlights Peterson’s time on the force, her family and why she loves being an officer.

“I love my job,” Peterson said. “I work with a really great group of people. I feel like even though it can be hard because I have three kids and I’m always working I feel like each day I get to come to work, I have an opportunity to try to accomplish something to help someone, even if I don’t know what it is at the time. I know that in the end, I can make a difference.”

Dekmar said even though there are challenges that officers face, there is an upside to it all.

“It is a dynamic career where you have the ability to experience the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives that few career fields offer,” Dekmar said. “What we do is so significant in people’s lives that generally, they will recall it for the rest of their lives. That experience is going to define their opinion of not only that officer but of that agency and of the profession.”

There are also more than a dozen units offered at LPD that someone could choose to be a part of.

“In terms of what the job offers in personal development, if you enjoy patrol, there’s certainly that opportunity,” Dekmar said. “If you like investigations and to study, you take advantage of testing to become a detective. If you’re interested in tactical situations or tactical teams or emergency service teams, canine, bike, crime scene, processing evidence, computer crime forensics … They’re just a host of fields that are part of the collective profession of policing that almost any interest in the pursuit in this line of work can turn to.”

Being a part of the police staff, officers have the opportunity to get to know the whole community.

At the end of the day, Peterson said it’s not just about making arrests or wearing the badge but being there for all of LaGrange when they need it.

“We have a unique opportunity to work with the community,” Peterson said. “We have so many different outreach programs that the police department features that you actually can be a part of, and you get to actually sit and help people. Around here, it is so much easier to not only immerse yourself in the community but to be a part of everything.”

The LaGrange Police Department is always accepting applications for police officer and conducts at least four hiring assessments per year.

If you have any questions about the hiring process, contact Sgt. Karen Sanders at ksanders@lagrangega.org or Officer Jim Davison at jdavison@lagrangega.org.