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Denver PD growing as agencies across the U.S. struggle with fewer recruits

Posted at 4:30 AM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 08:15:06-05

DENVER -- Police departments across the country are facing a common problem: attracting and keeping recruits. But the Denver Police Department is having success. 

"I'm looking forward to that positive interaction that I will have in the community," said recruit, Justis Nelson.

Nelson moved to Colorado a month ago, along with his wife. He is just one of 52 people going through the academy to become a Denver Police officer. It's the largest class in nearly ten years. 

While other departments are having trouble finding new officers, Rick Kyle, Denver PD's Training Division Commander, said the city's department is growing.

"We definitely had to work harder at our recruiting," said Kyle. "I think the biggest challenge is actually the economy being good."

As Denver fights a labor shortage, law enforcement agencies across the country are facing a much different challenge in their recruitment efforts.

Mike Violette, executive director of the Colorado State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, believes added scrutiny in the wake of the Ferguson riots has turned people away from law enforcement.

But that doesn't appear to be a problem in Denver.

Christopher Avitia, a DPD recruiter, said he travels all over the region and touts the department's competitive pay and other perks.

"We pay you to attend the police academy and give you an opportunity to get post certified while you are in the academy," Avitia said.

The Denver Police Department plans to add another 100 officers in 2018 as the city's population continues to grow and senior officers begin to retire.