Two vacancies stand between the Hinesville Police Department and full strength.
And Police Chief George Stagmeier looks to add recruits with a commitment to integrity and quality community service to the current 83-member force.
“They really need to do the right thing when folks are not looking,” Stagmeier said of recruits. “That’s something that’s the core mechanics of law enforcement.”
He said he believes integrity is especially important in the local department, considering negative stereotypes about officers who are corrupt or abuse their authority.
Besides some bad labels, Stagmeier speculates the field’s demanding schedule and need to balance work and home life keep prospects away and officers from continuing.
“The workload is pretty heavy,” he said. “Because you go out there every day and you put your life on the line. You never know what could happen when you stop a car or go to a house.”
All the hazards and job-related stress may also be intimidating for anyone considering law enforcement.
“Some people may look at that, not knowing the training, not knowing how we do things, (and it) may prevent them from making that first step,” the chief said.
Officer John Williams was one of those who decided to take that first step, joining HPD two years ago.
He said new officers have to have a “go get ‘em, never say die attitude,” to be motivated enough to stay.
“We need officers who are energetic and enthusiastic,” Williams said. “To do this job you have to have a lot of energy because you’re always moving. Something is always happening.”
The retired Army infantryman said he became a police officer because he always liked helping people and he was doing that within the first week on the job.
Williams started out as a patrol officer, but now is the crime prevention officer.
“Doing this job I can see readily the effect I have on the community and people,” Williams said. “Versus the military, there was more of a long-term affect that I don’t get to see.”
Besides an age requirement, recruits must also pass a written test, a background check, a timed physical fitness test, psychological evaluation, polygraph examination and a doctor’s physical.
Then there is a 10-week police academy course at Armstrong Atlantic State University and six to eight week, hands-on training with a field training officer.
“They (recruits) can certainly go through that training and do well, but maybe there is a prerequisite as to what kind of person that is attracted to this type of work,” Stagmeier said.
A willingness to help and love of the community are the common prerequisites for HPD officers, according to Williams.
“Because that’s what this job is. It’s just ordinary individuals that’s reaching deep inside, pulling up the greatness that’s in them to make the community better,” Williams said.
“Presently, right now, without a doubt, we have the best officers who are proactive and have a tremendous amount of initiative in doing the job the right way,” Stagmeier said.