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      Law enforcement agencies looking for officers

      A statewide shortage of police officers is causing departments to reach out to police academies to find qualified candidates.

      â??I've been doing this for 27 years. I've never seen this many openings this fast, ever,â?? said Alan Hart, Northwestern Michigan College Police Academy Coordinator.

      People who protect our communities.... are in high demand across the state.

      â??Statewide the numbers of people being trained for pre-service employment prior to being hired are downâ?|. now's a good time to go into law enforcement.â??

      Alan Hart is the coordinator at Northwestern Michigan College's Police Academy, and former Kalkaska County Sheriff.

      â??Here at NMC we literally can get any qualified candidate hired at the completion of the academy in the state of Michigan.â??

      Last year there were 19,125 open police positions in Michigan. Only 18,525 officers were hired, leaving 600 positions unfilled.

      Hart wants to help those students get qualified so they can fill empty positions at police departments across the state.

      â??There's a large number of people who are retiring. They've been in the business for awhile. They're getting out and there's a huge turnover. There's a large percentage of people who came in at the same time.â??

      Retiring troopers is also something leaders at Michigan State Police are seeing as well.

      â??I've never seen the state police publicly advertise like they're doing now.â??

      â??Attrition has really cut down our ranks significantly to around 800 troopers in the field so now we're definitely gaining on that number,â?? said Sgt. Michele Hernandez, Michigan State Police Recruiting and Selection.

      Hart is also pointing to the upswing in the economy.

      â??As the economy improves then money becomes available for cities and counties to hire new officers.â??

      Michigan State Police's hiring initiative that started in 2012 is aiming to get the department back up to about 1,300 troopers.

      Several northern Michigan Sheriff's say they are having trouble finding qualified officers. Others are not experiencing the issue, but are not seeing many applicants with prior police experience.