LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – It’s talked about it all the time, the shortage of officers at the Little Rock Police Department.
Friday, 18 new officers took the oath to protect and serve. When fully staffed, LRPD has a total of 593 officers. After the new class, they are up to 536. With four new classes of 30 to 40 recruits scheduled to happen over the next year, LRPD hopes to be fully staffed by next fall.
For graduate Alejandro Manriquez, this lifelong goal is finally met and he believes it’s the perfect time.
“I always wanted to be a police officer, since I was a kid,” said Manriquez. "I wanted to help the community, especially Little Rock. The Hispanic community is growing and there’s a need for bilingual officers."
Each new officer is also leaving with a $5,000 starting bonus. One effort to get back to the total of 593 officers, in a time when it’s needed most.
“A big problem with a lot of the stuff I think is we don’t have enough bodies on the street,” said Recruitment Officer Ira Whitfield. “I feel confident we'll get where we need to be but it takes time."
A new class of 29 begins training this month.