ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Escanaba Department of Public Safety is working to retain its workforce and recruit new members.
As he approached his 17th anniversary with Escanaba Public Safety, Darren Smith took on the role of Captain three months ago. With that new title came the responsibility of helping to build up an understaffed department.
“We’re staffed 31 officers total,” Captain Smith said. “We were down seven positions, which on a small department is a huge, huge hit.”
Since then, the department’s primary goal has been recruitment. Smith says they have made progress.
“We currently are down only two of the seven that we were missing, but we have recruited more to come in,” he said. “Hopefully within a couple months, we’ll be a lot closer to being where we need to be.”
One successful recruitment measure has been training sponsorships.
“The City of Escanaba will pay for their academy,” Smith explained. “We currently have two new officers that are at Northwestern [Michigan] College in Traverse City.”
Upon returning, recruits go through a police field training program and a firefighting program.
“They’ll learn all the police side of it first,” said Captain Smith. “Once they have that down, they can learn the layout of the city, what they’re doing, where they’re going. Then at that point is where we introduce the firefighting class into it. At the very end, they’re thrown in together. These officers will almost put a year of training in before they get out on their own.”
Now and in the future, the department is focused on retention. Captain Smith believes recent purchases of new extrication equipment, body cams, and other technological upgrades will be great assets to Escanaba Public Safety and its officers.
“One of our goals is getting them the best equipment that we can get them,” he said. “We’re doing upgrades on vehicles to allow them to have the best foot forward dealing with what they have to deal with.”