Yakima police still looking to beef up its department staff

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Keeping our community safe is YPD's top priority. A task that's not always easy without a full staff.

Driving by the Yakima Police Department, you may not see a "Help Wanted" sign, but police officials will tell you they certainly could use one.

"It seems like we're always in an uphill battle trying to get qualified people to be police officers," said Yakima Police Captain Rod Light.

YPD currently has ten candidates on the way to our department that are either in the academy or field training. On top of that there's still six openings waiting to be filled.

Making sure we only accept the best of the best is a challenging process. Candidates must complete a written test, an oral test, a background investigation, a drug test, and a psychological test.

In addition, they must pass the academy and a field training program, meaning many don't make the cut.

"To hire one, it's not uncommon to have to go through potentially half a dozen people, just to get one," said Captain Light.

Police officials explained that when new officers come in they work in the patrol division, which is the backbone of the department.

Once there for a couple years they can move on to specialty units such as investigations, the gang unit, and violent task force.

With the strict entry requirements, and officers retiring as new ones come in, they've learned to make due without compromising safety.

Community members like Fabian Bremerman agree,

"I feel pretty safe, where ever I go it seems like every time I turn my head I always see an officer," said Bremerman.

After receiving assistance from YPD for a hit and run, Fabian feels that since they came for a small incident, they would definitely have time for other crimes.

"It's a good feeling, knowing that they're there, you know for something minor as for something serious," said Bremerman.

For now, YPD continues their uphill battle as they look toward the future.

"We'll have our patrol division and all of our specialty units at full staff, which goes to making Yakima a safer place to be," said Captain Light.

Among YPD's specialty units, the gang unit is still looking to hire at least two more officers.