The Lubbock City Council gave the okay back in January to hire as many eligible officers that the police department could find. But Wednesday, 27 recruits were turned away and may now have to look for a new line of work.
"It's another way to help out the community and be a civil servant," said a potential recruit.
This recruit decided to change careers to become part of the Lubbock police force, but after making it through an intense four month interview process, that goal might be gone. "I finally made it through, I got the phone call this morning and was just shocked," said the recruit.
The Lubbock Police Academy Class 2005-B is starting in less than three weeks, but a city budget issue broke the bad news that 27 potential recruits would not make it to class.
Lubbock Police Chief Claude Jones said, "I know how hard it is, I empathize with them."
Chief Jones says it costs over a $100,000 a year for each new officer. Multiply that by the potential 40 new recruits, and it adds up to $4 million. The chief says he's happy just to get the $2 million for 20 officers. "It's a giant step to hire 20 officers, before we'd get 5-8, recently the council moved to hire whatever possible," said Chief Jones.
"The bottom line, we need to balance the budget," said Lubbock Mayor Marc McDougal.
The mayor says they have two commitments, keeping tax rates low, and keeping two officers for every thousand citizens. He says they plan to keep both promises, but one will be put on hold. "It's not a question about if we had 40 officers, it's a question of if we had all of them right now," says Mayor McDougal.
As the budget stands, only the top 20 recruits with the highest entrance exam scores will make it into the academy and the other 27 will have to wait and see what the future budget has in store.
"If the city council doesn't allow it, I'll try again. I want to be a part of the force, I won't let this set me back," said the recruit.
Chief Jones says the exact number of recruits has not been finalized. The 20 recruits suggested is a number in the potential budget that the city council will begin to discuss on Monday.
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