Arizona Comes Back to Recruit Michigan Cops

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

With a "go" from a recruiting officer, about 30 men hit the track next to Spartan Stadium. They were trying out to be state police officers.

But they are not looking to join the Michigan State Police.

They're hoping to become officers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

"We definitely need a lot of people for several reasons," department spokesman Sgt. Harold Sanders said.

Chief among those reasons: Arizona's explosive growth. More people means a need for more police. So Sanders and others from the Arizona DPS are back in Michigan for the second time this year.

They will be here through Thursday, hoping to interview about 100 would-be officers and eventually offer to jobs to about half of them.

The recruitment officers are also visiting New York and Massachusetts, but Michigan has become a target because of its poor economy.

It's left Chad MacDonald without a job.

"I got laid off as a teacher down in Monroe," MacDonald said. "I just found that out a couple weeks ago."

So MacDonald is trying to follow the footsteps of his father and brother into law enforcement. But he's not the typical recruit.

Most of these candidates, Sanders says, are already law enforcement officers. The state of Arizona has come prepared with a fairly large incentive to get them to switch departments.

Officers with three years experience will be paid $52,000 a year. That number would grow to $60,000 in five years. Michigan State Police troopers can get $55,000 or so after five years.

Arizona is also offering to pay inexperienced officers about $3,000 more than Michigan would. An MSP spokeswoman says the recruitment doesn't concern the department any more than visits by any other company or department.

Given the state's budget situation and stagnant population, MSP is not looking to hire in large numbers. Arizona, of course, is.

"If everybody passed the process this week we could literally hire all of them today," Sanders said.

That hiring would mean a move away from family for MacDonald. So he says it's all economics.

Nothing personal.

"No, sir. I love Michigan," MacDonald said. "If I could stay, I would. But someone else might be calling. So it might be time to go."

Sad as it is for Michigan, that's precisely the attitude Arizona hopes is a pervasive one.


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