The El Paso Police Department not only is low on total applications but they're also seeing more people leave the force in 2020. Here is how the numbers in 2020 have broken down so far:

  • They have received 2,619 applications for the current class.
  • 677 of the applicants have passed the written exam.
  • 441 have passed the job simulation.
  • The academy process started with 34, and the department is estimating 30 people to graduate.

Public Information Officer for the El Paso Police Department Sgt. Robert Gomez talked about why the applications are down:

The number of applications is down. Why they’re down, police is just not a profession people are seeking. It’s being demonized in the media and being demonized throughout the country and there’s a lot of people that don’t want to go through what police officers go through. So, that could play a part, but we’ll know more as time goes by. Policing throughout the country is under a lot of scrutiny right now and I think it could play on a person's decision making to try to come into this profession. The job market is competitive or was before coronavirus. The economy was booming, people were finding jobs and a lot of people decided, or young people decided, that becoming a police officer wasn’t their first choice.

Gomez went on to talk about why being understaffed is an issue:

Being understaffed in any capacity doesn’t just affect response times. It affects a lot of other aspects of the police department because we’re constantly having to adjust to make sure we are responding to calls for service. And what I mean by that is that the El Paso Police Department has adopted the community policing philosophy, and anybody that knows that type of policing knows that it’s very labor-intensive, meaning we need units to have a neighborhood dispute resolved. We need people dedicated to fixing problems that aren’t normally a police matter but have fallen within the police matter. We need personnel to adjust to the growing mental health crisis of the United States and address a lot of those problems. We have created the Crisis Intervention Team unit and we would like to have a larger unit to help the citizens of El Paso with their issues and get them to treatment they need and respond to those calls accurately and timely.

It's not known when the next academy will be because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gomez says it probably won't be until 2021 and the department is looking into options for how to handle new hiring protocols.