Local law enforcement having a hard time finding applicants

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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - The Bellevue, Fremont and Blair police departments are looking for officers and Douglas and Cass counties are looking for deputies, but the pool of candidates keeps shrinking.

It's not uncommon for some of the smaller agencies to lo lose officers to the Omaha Police Department, but it comes with an extra dose of disappointment when the interest is so low.

The upcoming police exam is drawing a historically low number of applicants for the six law enforcement agencies participating.

For Bellevue, pay starts around $48,000 a year and requirements are that applicants are a high school graduate with no felony convictions. Still, no one is applying.

Officer Jansen has been patrolling the streets of Bellevue for four-and-a-half years. When she applied to be a cop, she was among 550 people who tested.

"It may not pay as well as some of the jobs out there, but for me, the intrinsic value that you gain knowing you made a difference, that's something a lot of jobs cannot compete with," Bellevue Police Lt. Andy Jashinske said.

So far this year, just 67 people have applied to join the ranks.

"I think the economy is doing better and whenever that happens, historically, police jobs aren't filled as often," Jashinske said. "There's also been a lot of negative publicity towards police in the last four to five years. I think that might affect that some as well."

Chief Deputy Tom Wheeler said he's never seen so few people apply to take the law enforcement exam in his nearly three decades of law enforcement.

The deadline to apply for the next exam is Friday. The ad has been attached to this story.