• 77°
Hartselle Enquirer
McDearmond

‘We want the best’: Hartselle Police Department is hiring

By David Gambino 

For the Enquirer  

  

The tight-knit Hartselle Police Department is seeking to fill four vacancies left by retiring officers amid a historic, nationwide recruitment crisis for law enforcement. 

“About four years ago, there was a folder in the captain’s office that was full of applications,” said Hartselle police Capt. Alan McDearmond. “I think there were around 50 in there. And those were applications human resources pulled for us to look at. Now, we hardly have any.” 

Hartselle PD is not alone. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a component of the Department of Justice, “law enforcement agencies across the country face a historic crisis in recruiting and retaining qualified candidates.” 

A 2023 study by the Police Executive Research Forum found that police departments are losing officers faster than they can hire new ones. 

Despite recruitment difficulties, Hartselle PD has strict hiring standards compared to some other local agencies, according to Lt. Daniel Parker. 

“We just have a different way of doing it,” he said. “Our focus is the city, our citizens — we want to give them the best.” 

McDearmond said candidates are expected to go above and beyond the standards set by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. 

“We are very picky with who we hire,” he said. “A polygraph is not required by APOSTC; however, we require a polygraph.” 

McDearmond said candidates also take a psychological test with three possible outcomes: recommend for employment, recommend with caution, or do not recommend. 

“We’ll only hire you if it’s ‘recommend for employment,’” he said. “We don’t take any chances on the secondary one.” 

The department’s firearm qualification and military veteran standards are also a higher bar than APOSTC’s. 

“We want to not only meet the standard but exceed the standard,” McDearmond said. “We want the best of the best. We want a clear conscience on people that we hire. We’re not going to put a gun in somebody’s hand that doesn’t need to carry a gun, period.” 

Parker said it’s important for aspiring officers to have empathy. 

“I want to see that they’re teachable,” he said. “I want to see that they’re humble. I don’t want an egotistical bully to come out here and try to represent our city. I want somebody that’s going to go out and do the job honorably, and then I also want them to be able to admit when they’re wrong. 

“I kind of pride the department on this. We’ve got no bones with telling you, ‘Hey, I’m sorry, I made a mistake.’ The benefit of having these high standards is we don’t have to do that a lot. It benefits us and the citizens.” 

 

‘Family atmosphere’ 

There are around 38 officers currently employed by Hartselle PD, according to McDearmond. He thinks it’s the perfect size. 

“Our department is still small enough where you can talk to the chief,” he said. “You know who he is, what he looks like. He knows who you are. There are a lot of departments where you can go months without seeing the chief. 

“We’re big enough that we have our own criminal investigation division, we have our own school resource officer program. We have some extra things — Parker and some others are drone pilots.” 

Parker said department administrators have kept the department up to date with advances in technology. 

“All this stuff that they’ve been doing for us, especially in the last five years, has completely changed the way we work,” he said. “They just purchased new guns for us. We drive almost brand-new SUVs. A lot of that stuff, to a young officer, means something. 

“It’s hard to leave a place where you feel valued. It’s not just our administrators and city leaders. I’ve spent 18 years on patrol, and I’ll tell you, our citizens still love us. When you feel appreciated by the community and your leaders in the department, that’s a game-changer.” 

New recruits who are not yet APOSTC-certified will receive a starting pay of $21.07 per hour. Once hired, they will begin training by riding along with an experienced officer before attending the police academy. After that, recruits must complete the field training officer program. 

Hartselle’s school system, competitive pay, take-home vehicle policy and benefits are a few things that make Hartselle PD an attractive employer, according to McDearmond. 

“You also get that camaraderie,” Parker said. “We know each other’s birthday, our kids’ birthdays. My daughter was thinking about going into the same career field as the captain’s daughter, so I reached out to him and we hooked those two up. It’s stuff like that that you don’t think about when you’re a young guy and don’t have a family.” 

Investigator Cody Hardin said, with several officers set to retire, there will be plenty of opportunities for career advancement in the department.  

“You got to get into it wanting to help people,” he said. “It’s got to be the main reason behind it.” 

Parker said the vast majority of officers stay with the department through retirement. 

“It’s the citizens, it’s our leaders, it’s our administrators,” he said. “I’ve had supervisors at birthday parties. They were there when my children were born. When my child was sick, I had supervisors calling to check on them. 

“Stuff like that makes a lasting impression. I don’t just want to come to work — I want to do a good job. I also want to make them proud, make my people proud, make the citizens proud. In my mind, it would devastate me to find out that I had done something that just completely made them think bad of me. I care that deeply for the place, and I think everyone does.”  

Falkville

Storm shelter companies see increase in calls for installation

Falkville

Morgan County rabies clinic to be held June 1

Eva

Community class reunion celebrates Morgan schools

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hats off: Class of 2024 graduates from Hartselle High School

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

City adjusts garbage routes for Memorial Day

Falkville

Larry Madison has been a pillar in Falkville for four decades

Hartselle

Hartselle trio nominated for two K-LOVE awards

Hartselle

Hartselle students chosen to attend Girls State

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle Kiwanis Club continues scholarly legacy with annual golf tournament

Editor's picks

Heartbreaking finish: Hartselle comes up a run short in state baseball finals

Decatur

Fallen Morgan County officers remembered, families honored  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle drops Game 1 to Hillcrest, needs two wins for state title

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Despite title loss, Hartselle thankful for state experience 

Editor's picks

Hartselle baseball legend dies

Breaking News

Hartselle baseball legend William Booth dies at 79

At a Glance

ALDOT patching area of Thompson Road tomorrow, Thursday

At a Glance

Spring-time market day in Hartselle scheduled for May 18 

Hartselle

New Crestline Elementary School welcomes students

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle industry closing, affecting more than 150 jobs  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Habitat for Humanity applications for homeownership available June 3 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

State seeking death penalty for Fort Payne woman accused of pushing victim off cliff

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Pilot of ultralight dies in Hartselle plane crash

Editor's picks

Northern lights visible from north Alabama

Hartselle

Hartselle students to attend Boys State

x