MUNCIE, Ind. — The City of Muncie has seen four homicides within the first 90 days, compared to two this time last year.
Police say they’re making progress on these cases, but all of this is happening as the department deals with being understaffed.
“It’s been whew, Melissa and I were just talking, it’s been a challenging three weeks for us. It’s been more challenging because we are understaffed right now,” said Muncie Police Department Deputy Chief Chris Deegan.
In order to overcome those challenges, they are beginning a new lateral hiring process to gain experienced officers.
“It’s for already established police officers that are ILEA (Indiana Law Enforcement Academy) certified or could obtain a certification through the waiver process that could be done at the academy,” said Deegan.
He and the other department heads hope this will increase staffing after losing 22 officers in the past year due to retirement and careers changes. They’re currently operating with 90 officers, seven of which are still within their probationary year. They’re fully staffed at 105.
“I’m sure there are many agencies that feel this,” said Deegan.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department does, as they aren’t operating at full capacity and continue to find new ways to recruit. Aside from getting quality officers, Muncie hopes to bring more diversity.
“Diversity brings understanding,” said MPD Patrolman Tyronda Benning.
Benning has been on the force for three years. She says she remembers being the only black woman then, but her duty was important.
“When you grow up in a community, I grew up in being a black female, just ultimately you don’t really like the police. You were always taught to not really like the police, don’t really ask no questions or don’t mess with them like that,” said Benning.
The department has increased pay and benefits to draw more officers. They’ve also purchased new equipment to provide more training opportunities for the officers they hope will come on board.
“We’re looking for people that show integrity, that are organized and that are driven to come to work and be a part of the community that they’re in,” said Deegan.