BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Birmingham Police Department is fighting an uphill battle.
Less than two months into the year, 17 people have been killed in acts of violence, and leadership at BPD said the agency is about 100 officers short.
Based on data made available from the FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Report, this makes for roughly a 10 percent deficit in Birmingham’s police force.
Next month, 24 men and women are expected to graduate from BPD’s training academy.
Lt. Sean Edwards said the graduating class is smaller than most, and will only make a small dent in filling the open jobs with the department.
Some of the officers in training did not know that there was an officer shortage in Birmingham when they signed up for the academy.
“It surprised me that they’re short that many people,” said Bryant Finney, a recruit. “But kind of with everything that’s going on all over the country — there’s a lot of really tense situations all around law enforcement, and I think a lot of people are kind of shying away from this career.”
For many of the recruits, learning that help is so badly needed in Birmingham makes them more eager to provide it.
“It makes me more fired up, that I can get out there and make a difference within the community,” said Dexter Sumerlin.
“My heart has always been in Birmingham, and being a police officer is something I’ve always wanted to do since high school,” said Briyonna Scoggins. “(Becoming an officer was) definitely a no-brainer for me. I never second guessed it, never questioned it.”
In mid-2016, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reported it’s largest-ever recruiting class at its training academy, which trains law enforcement officers for most agencies in the county outside of Birmingham and Hoover.