FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Police Department leadership say they’re facing a hiring crisis. They’re attributing this largely to a damaged reputation of policing as a job.

Captain Sofia Rosales-Scatena said the image of police took a huge hit after the unrest that followed the death of George Floyd last May and that’s a major reason they’re struggling to fill their open spots.

“Something that we’re really pushing is that we are hiring,” she said. “This has been a big push for this community. We are low in our applications.”

FWPD currently has about 460 officers, and some of those will be leaving soon. The force wants to build up to 485 officers. But Rosales-Scatena says there’s a distrust of police that’s hurting the size of their application pool.

“Obviously, there’s a sentiment around the nation in law enforcement and a lot of people are not considering this as a career opportunity,” she said. “You see it all over social media. ‘Who’d want to do that job?’ ‘Why do you do that job?’ There’s just a lot on both sides of the aisle. We have to take this challenge and we have to show people exactly what this job is and it’s not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart at all, but you can do it.”

She said FWPD should not be judged by what any other police force in the country is doing, but by what they do as a singular department. They are struggling to get more hires, as many departments are.

“That’s not unusual for every department throughout the nation,” she said. “Everyone’s facing this hiring crisis right now, but I want to discourage that. I want to encourage you to apply if you’re thinking about it. We want our department to make up and look like this community, but it can’t do that unless you’re putting in an application and then willing to make that choice to join us.”

To help with the lag, FWPD just started a new recruiting team with recruiters that range from new hires to veterans. They’re also developing a new phone app where applicants can correspond openly with recruiters throughout the process.