By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon Police recently welcomed the newest members of its crime-fighting force as law enforcement agencies continue to face challenges recruiting new personnel.
Rookie officers Brayley Running, Corbin Gordon, Humberto Saucedo, and Travis Mustain recently took their oaths administered by Yukon Police Chief John Corn. They are replacing officers who have retired.
The four recruits now begin the Yukon Police Department’s field training program.
Chief Corn referred to challenges recruiting young people interested in a law enforcement career.
“It has declined over the last three years post-COVID,” he said. “There have been some high-profile incidents (involving police actions) that have occurred across the country.
“Working in public service is never a lucrative job, but law enforcement benefits and salaries have continued to be increased over the years.”
Oklahoma City Police’s starting officer salaries are now about $61,000. Yukon Police starts around $47,000.
Police officers have good benefits and incentive packages – and YPD provides uniforms, weapons and extensive CLEET-certified training.
“Even departments that are paying a larger beginning salary are still having that recruitment issue of drawing people interested in the profession as a career,” Chief Corn said.
Trying to reach young people starting their career, YPD’s leadership team actively promotes open officer positions through the City of Yukon’s website and department’s social media pages. They attend job fairs and recruit in-person at local colleges.
YPD representatives want to show potential recruit “what the City of Yukon offers and what the benefit would be to work in this community,” Corn added.
“For our agency’s size and for all of the recruitment efforts we’ve undertaken here in the last two years, we’ve seen a little bit of growth with our local market,” he said. “I’ve got some good young guys who grew up in the community and were interested in law enforcement.
“They went through college, and that was where they had their focus all along. To be able to recruit them to come back and work in the community where they grew up has been a huge bonus for us.”
The YPD has an extensive application and vetting process when recruiting potential officers.
Candidates must complete a rigorous physical agility course, standardized entry exam, psychological background check, polygraph test, oral interview board, and a police pension physical.
It takes about six months from when the YPD accepts applications to when a job offer is extended to an officer recruit.
Newly hired officers then must complete the department’s field training officer (FTO) program, which lasts 14 to 16 weeks.
“If they go through an academy, that’s an additional 14 weeks,” noted Corn, referring to those with no previous experience.
So, it typically takes up to one full year – from the time someone applies for an open position to when they become a fully certified officer on the street.
“It has been difficult for agencies to self-promote and find those pockets of interested persons who can meet all the qualifications and pass everything they are required to pass,” Yukon’s police chief shared.
“It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of time – both on their part and on the agency’s part. And there’s no guarantee at the end of that 11 or 12 months that you’re going to make it in this career. People are exposed to a lot of things in this line of work that they may never have been exposed to in their lifetime up to this point.”
Even with the addition of officers Running, Gordon, Saucedo, and Mustain, the YPD still must hire for four more open positions.
“Our process is open right now, and we have four additional vacancies,” Corn explained. “Three of those (openings) are the three additional personnel approved in this year’s budget. Then we had an officer who recently retired, so we’re looking to fill that position as well.”
After all open positions are filled and new officers finish training, the YPD will have 54 sworn personnel – with 36 of them in the patrol division.
Yukon has been Chief Corn’s home for 55 years and he’s spent his entire 34-year career with the police department. He estimated the current YPD staff averages 16 years of service.
“This is a great career and Yukon is a great community to work in,” Corn said.