“Due to a nationwide staffing shortage, any kid dressed as a cop on Halloween will have to take a shift,” read one Halloween meme.
YORK, SC — A Halloween meme highlights a very real problem. You may have seen a post on your social media pages that reads: “Due to a nationwide staffing shortage, any child dressed as a cop on Halloween will be required to take a shift. “
The post went viral, but there are no tricks here. Law enforcement says they are facing shortages.
“If you want to dress up as a deputy or a police officer for Halloween, go ahead and do it,” said Trent Faris of the York County Sheriff’s Office. “But if you want to put on a real uniform, come down and we’ll talk to you.”
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The York County Sheriff’s Office recruits both Detention Officers and Law Enforcement Assistants. Since 2019 Deputy Trent Faris has said the department needs both and he is not alone. This is a national problem.
According to the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum, the number of law enforcement officers employed by agencies has declined in recent years, dropping nearly 3.6% from January 2020 to January 2022.
It came as quits soared, rising in 2021 by around 40% from the previous year.
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“We just need good people and we’ll make you great cops,” Faris said. “Especially in our detention division. We have a lot of openings in our detention division.”
In nearby Lancaster, the city’s police department has six openings in patrol, one opening in special operations and four openings for part-time patrol officers.
The Lancaster Police Department is also ready to hire qualified people.
To help with recruiting, deputies are now allowed to drive cars home, and the sheriff is working with the county to raise salaries. The agency also hosts its own career fairs, recently making an appearance at the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia.
“All of our shifts are good at the moment, but let’s say if someone gets sick or takes a day off, it puts a strain on the other assistants to replace that person. It takes one more person off the street,” Faris said.
Regarding Halloween staffing, Deputy Faris says that because it’s a Monday, they don’t expect it to be a busy night. They do, however, have deputies on the streets and ready to respond if they need them.
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Information for York County Sheriff’s Office positions is available here.