National officer shortage impacting Mint Hill

MINT HILL, N.C. — The Mint Hill police chief said he needs more officers and that the void is a nationwide problem.

Police Chief Tim Ledford helps train officers across the area and said recruiting is difficult.

"Ten years ago, for every opening I had, I probably had 50 applicants. That's changed drastically," Ledford said.

That number has dwindled to about eight applicants per open position, and many who apply aren't qualified.

Ledford's department of about 35 officers has six vacancies.

"This is a nationwide phenomenon they're seeing,” Ledford said.

He said high-profile officer-involved shootings that have been seen in the national media are affecting how young people view the profession.

"They have a major concern about law enforcement and how the community will perceive them,” Ledford said.

Ledford is targeting people as young as 14 years old to show them the rewards of a career in law enforcement. He's also talking to veteran police officers.

"We're looking at incentives to encourage officers to stay,” Ledford said. “When we start recruiting, we will look for veteran officers willing to come for the incentives.”

Ledford hopes these efforts, and focusing on the department's strengths, will fill vacancies and change public perceptions.

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