KALAMAZOO, Mich. —It’s one of the toughest jobs in the United States right now. Not only is it dangerous, but they put their lives on the line every single day. Now, the largest fully integrated police, fire, and EMS department in the United States is asking for your help.
The Kalamazoo Public Department of Safety is looking to hire 40 new officers in the next year and a half. They train their officers in Police, Fire and medical, so they can technically respond to any type of 911 call that comes into the department.
Inspector Sgt. Matt Elzinga has been with KDPS for 14 years, and says this job is unique because when an officer shows up on the scene of a 911 call they're ready to act as a police officer, run into a burning building, or provide medical care on the spot.
KDPS is looking to fill at least 10 to 20 positions as soon as possible.
“Right now we are under strength and that causes a lot of overtime, and we’ve had a lot of retirements in the last three years,” said Sgt. Elzinga.
KDPS has 271 employees, not necessarily all with police power, budgeted for 2017, but there’s only about 210 officers right now. They lost 20 to retirement in the past couple years, and the department could potentially lose 19 more to retirement in the next three years. With a large need to fill spots they are making it easier for you to join if you’re the person they are looking for to join their force.
“If you are not certified in police or fire we do sponsor candidates,” said Sgt. Elzinga.
If you didn’t go to school for criminal justice, KDPS doesn’t count you out either. They have former accountants, insurance adjusters, teachers, and many others that have joined their team.
“If we can find the heart we will train the brain and what that means is we want someone who has a passion to serve the community,” said Sgt. Elzinga.
Sgt. Elzinga admitted that it is a little harder to find and hire the right police officers in this political climate. It’s no secret police officers are in the spotlight across the nation after some officers’ actions, like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. On the flip side, it’s dangerous for police. Police have been wrongfully attacked like in Dallas last year when a sniper ambushed officers, killing 5 of them.
“It is harder but we are also hiring high quality people that want to protect and serve. When danger happens and people are running the opposite way you see an officer running towards the face of danger,” said Sgt. Elzinga. “The impact you could have on someone’s life when they’re not having a very good day because they called 911 can have a true impact on someone for the rest of their lives.
KDPS is accepting applications from June 7-June 25, and are hoping to hire 10-20 people out of this enrollment.