WATERVILLE — It might be an unusual way to recruit officers and dispatchers, but Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey says he hopes it will raise awareness and generate interest.

The Waterville Police Department is struggling to find officers and dispatchers to fill open positions. In response, Waterville has placed signs on the police station lawn off Colby Street in an effort to find strong candidates on Dec. 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Waterville Police Department

Massey’s department has placed signs on the police station’s lawn off Colby Street, advertising open positions for patrol officers and dispatchers. The move comes as efforts to spread the word on social media and online, at job fairs and virtual platforms are not working.

“We have never advertised for any of our positions in this manner, where we’re actually putting signs up,” Massey said.

Recruiting new people into law enforcement is a struggle locally, statewide and nationwide, according to Massey, who said there are myriad reasons people do not want to go into the profession, including criticisms of police across the country and calls for defunding police.

Now that police retirement systems are portable, officers can move from department to department without losing benefits. Many departments offer thousands of dollars in signing bonuses to draw candidates. Officers sometimes move to other agencies that offer other perks, such as take-home vehicles.

“What we’re doing is competing for the same candidate pool,” Massey said.


Waterville has 31 sworn police officers, including Massey and Deputy Chief William Bonney. There are two open positions, and a candidate is now going through the hiring process, Massey said.

Officials must think creatively and use whatever tools available to help generate interest in police and dispatching work, according to Massey.

“I think the real problem is we’re just not attracting enough new people into the profession, and we’ve got to do that,” he said.

Massey said he has been in law enforcement for 43 years and taught criminal justice courses at Thomas College in Waterville for about eight of those years. Class sizes have ranged from 17 to 23 students. Massey said when he has asked how many students sought to make law enforcement a career, maybe two would answer affirmatively.

Asked what he would say to entice a person into law enforcement, Massey said it is an exciting, challenging and rewarding career where every day is different, officers interact with people under a variety of circumstances and they are able to help make differences in people’s lives.

“I just find it challenging and rewarding because of the diversity of things you are able to do,” Massey said.

The Waterville City Council voted in October to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with the Maine State Fraternal Order of Police that increased patrol officers’ wages and provided them a retirement plan that includes a cost-of-living increase as a way to help attract, recruit and retain staff.

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