HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The number of people applying to be state officers in Connecticut has dropped drastically over the last three years.
State law used to mandate 1,248 troopers until former governor Dan Malloy removed that requirement. Numbers have dropped ever since, with about 800 troopers currently on the roads.
And with recent violence towards Connecticut police, it’s getting even harder to recruit and retain people in the field.
On Oct. 12, Bristol Lt. Dustin DeMonte and Sgt. Alex Hamzy were killed while responding to a 911 call. A third policeman, Alec Iurato, was wounded.
A week prior, a suspect fired at a New Haven officer’s cruiser, hitting him in the neck.
“It becomes a wake-up call for how difficult and how serious of a career choice this is not, only for yourself, but for your family,” Connecticut State Police Sgt. Josue Dorelus said.
The number of applicants has dropped by more than half since 2020, with 2,591 applicants in 2020 and 1,057 applicants in 2022.
There have been more than a dozen attacks on Connecticut police officers in the last year, including a Hartford police officer who was trying to call an ambulance for a man standing next to a window.
The crisis isn’t only impacting recruitment. Agencies are struggling to retain potential troopers, as well. Dorelus said there has been a drastic decrease in the number of qualified applicants since 2014.
“We are a paramilitary organization,” Dorelus said. “You’re talking about early mornings and late nights. Academically challenging, physically challenging, so we ask that if you’re serious about this career choice, you take a moment to have a conversation with yourself and your family.”
But there is hope. Recent police academy graduates said they’re passionate about serving the community despite the potential danger.
“Someone always needs to be there,” Trooper Yves Dingammadji said. “Someone needs to be on the other side of the line, to respond to the call for service. So that is what kept me going.”
The application for the next class of cadets is open through Nov. 28.