Yuma-The Yuma Police Department is seeing a sharp increase in the number of police officers moving on to other better paying departments.
Yuma Police Chief John Lekan said in 2015 they have lost 33 officers and expect to lose more.
Lekan says during the recession, YPD was one of the few law enforcement agencies in the state still hiring while other cities were in a hiring freeze.
But when the economy improved and other state agencies started recruiting to fill their open positions, YPD found itself struggling to retain officers because it’s pay and benefits aren’t competitive.
"We found that the salaries in Yuma seem to be down at the bottom especially in cities of 50,000 and above." Lekan said. "Often times we are even down towards the bottom in communities of less than 50,000 too which was concerning to us so we know there is a significant gap in our salary ranges with what they’re offering in many of the communities throughout Arizona."
YPD can hire up to 179 sworn officers. Currently there are 14 positions open.
The department has hired 9 new officers but they are still undergoing training and won’t be on the streets for another several months.