PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It is a lengthy process to become a police officer, and many departments across the country are struggling to hire new officers.

There are hundreds of openings for officers in the Valley.

Three weeks ago, Officer Tyler Moldovan was shot eight times while responding to a call. He was a fairly new officer, and he graduated from the academy in March 2020.

The current academy class is only on week four, so there is still a lot to learn. One recruit we spoke with said he is pursuing this career to help the community despite the risks he may face as an officer.

"It’s sad; we are rooting for him,” recruit Perez said. “There is always a little fear; it’s a dangerous job.”

Recruit Perez is working to become a Phoenix police officer. While he is aware of the job's danger, he says he looks to the veteran officers for support.

“We rely on ‘Hey, tell us how you have handled these stressors,’” Perez said. “You want to learn from every situation.”

Before the academy, Perez was an athletic trainer. He then worked as a dispatcher with Phoenix PD for three years. He recently decided he wanted to be one of the first to help physically.

“The hard part about wanting to be on the other side of the radio is you can’t respond or see what is going on,” Perez said. “For me, I wanted to respond to the scene and help and use my skills.”

The academy process is 24 weeks long. The current class has 18 recruits, and that number is lower than in years past.

“Historically, we have had classes of up to 50 recruits,” Sergeant Ann Justus with the Public Affairs office at the Phoenix Police Department said.

Sergeant Ann Justus believes some situations involving officers don’t put recruits away.

“When they see a fellow officer hurt, I think that it is a fire in them that makes them want to be a police officer even more. It makes them want to protect their community and serve.”

The department is currently down 374 officers. They are offering hiring incentives of up to $7,500 to bring more people in.

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc.


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