West Fargo Police Chief describes efforts to retain officers as staffing shortages continue

Courtesy: West Fargo Police Department
Courtesy: West Fargo Police Department

(West Fargo, ND) -- The West Fargo Police Department says they are looking for ways to recruit officers as they need to fill positions within their ranks.

The West Fargo Police Department is currently operating without four officers, and will be down a total of six officers starting in January after the department becomes authorized to hire two additional officers. In light of the shortage, the department is moving to allow former military members to use their active duty time of service instead of being required to have a certain number of college credits.

"We are trying to capture some of those people getting out of the military coming in, "said Chief Nielson. "I served four years in the air force, active duty. When I got out, I felt like I still wanted to give more and that is what got me into police work. I feel like there are others, that it's the same to them. So lets try to grab some of them."

Chief Nielson, when asked about recruitment and retention after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, said his death has made it more difficult to recruit officers overall. "I think it has affected law enforcement in general and it has affected police department recruiting efforts, some retention as well, "said Chief Nielson.

Chief Nielson was also asked if the average "cop on the street" feels a level of tension after the death of George Floyd. The chief did cite a level of tension the officers experience caused by mental health concerns within the community, but did not answer if it was attributable to Floyd's murder. However, he clarified the tensionĀ 

"With the current state of mental health [and] the mental health crisis, you just never know what is going to happen. An officer should be on edge at all times. That is healthy for them, that keeps them safe."

Original Air Date: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2023