NORTON SHORES, Mich. — Two of the police openings in Norton Shores will focus on traffic issues, another dedicated to crimes against women, and the fourth opening is a result of an increase in mental health calls right here in the Norton Shores community.
"We are not hiring these officers just to add them to our road patrol," said Jon Gale, Norton Shores Police Chief. "We are specializing each of these positions based on the needs of our community."
Right now, Chief Gale says, responding to the needs of the community means finding an officer with a specific set of skills.
"That person would concentrate on all mental health needs in our community," said Chief Gale. "An officer out in the community working to connect individuals to mental health resources and an officer who can take on a growing number of challenging calls for help."
Chief Gale said the Norton Shores Police Department has seen a huge increase in mental health calls in the last year. The month of February alone he said they had 48 mental health calls, people in crisis. The department is also adding another "specialized" position.
"A detective that investigates only crimes against women and what that will entail is criminal sexual conduct, assaults, abuse." Chief Gale said.
That position is funded by a federal grant. The Norton Shores Police Department is also in need of two traffic officers to focus on crashes, highway patrol, and traffic education efforts.
Chief Gale knows his department isn't the only one in Muskegon County working to fill open positions.
"We have to think outside the box on recruiting," said Chief Gale. "Ten or 20 years ago, we'd receive 90 applicants for one position. Currently, we have 10 for four positions."
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