The Commerce City Police Department needs more officers and is providing a non-traditional opportunity to deal with a staffing shortage.
Sergeant Charlie Schoepflin said the department is offering to sponsor up to five non-certified recruits to attend the police academy as a way of encouraging more people to apply.
Commerce City PD will also pay recruits an hourly rate of $23 while they go through the 20-week training program.
"We're down officers, and when we're down officers that sometimes limits our ability to serve in a full capacity," said Schoepflin. "That also means we're limited in how we get to calls, what priorities."
Right now, Schoepflin said officers are having to work 12-hour shifts just to get by.
"Those 12-hour shifts can sometimes turn into 13 and 14-hour shifts and so that puts a lot of stress on the officers," he said.
With departments across the Metro Area also hiring and the recent scandals and negative perceptions of police, Schoepflin said it's becoming harder to recruit more hires.
"When that happens your pool seems to get smaller and smaller each and every time," he said.
26-year-old Justin Anderson is one of the department's newest recruits.
He said the opportunity Commerce City Police provided allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming an officer.
"Going to the police academy costs $10,000. I don't have $10,000 just sitting around," said Anderson. "It's a full time job and if you had to pay for that yourself - I have a wife and an 8-month old daughter. It's not possible."
Anderson grew up in a community where kids don’t trust police, a perception he said he now hopes to help change.
"I thought the kids like me, why not try and be that connection - why not try and show them that not everybody's bad," said Anderson.
For Schoepflin, he said those are exactly the kind of new recruits they're looking for.
"This is an opportunity to maybe go out and make a difference," said Schoepflin.
Colorado residents interested in applying are encouraged to submit an application and personal history statement online at c3gov.com/recruit. The deadline is Jan. 17, 2016.
Eligible individuals must:
· Be at least 21 years of age;
· Have a high school diploma or GED;
· Be able to perform all physical demands of the job;
· Successfully complete all testing components;
· Be a US citizen or possess proper I-9 documentation;
· Be able to communicate effectively in written and spoken English;
· Commit to three years of service by signing an agreement with the city;
· Wait at least 12months from last application submission with the Commerce City Police Department