This Saturday, the Moore Police Department will test new officer applicants on physicality and basic education with an aim to fill recent vacancies, but the truth is the local blue is in a constant state of hiring, according to Operations Lieutenant Kyle Dudley.
“When you have 89 commissioned officers, there is always someone retiring or relocating,” Dudley said.
He said one officer retired Monday, and another recently moved to Colorado after his wife’s job was transferred.
The number of officers is limited to 89 at this point in time.
“The City Manager O.K.’s the positions, and the council budgets for it,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said.
He added that number includes a handful of undercover officers he has never met in order to protect their identity.
Lewis said the number of officers on the force has grown since he took office as mayor.
“When I started there were about 41,” he said, “but as the city gets larger the population gets larger and more officers are needed.”
National city ratings are a strong guide for how Moore calculates its own need for officers.
“It’s based on statistics, on the crime rate of the city and the number of calls they get,” Lewis said. “Over the last five years, the crime rate here has actually dropped.”
Lewis added they will probably be looking to put a couple more uniforms on the street in the near future, but that’s not his call.
“That’s up to the police chief’s request,” he said. “Of course if he requests them, we’ll give him additional resources.”
Almost all of the money the city operates on, including funding for officer salaries, is based on sales taxes, Lewis said.
“That’s why we encourage people to shop in town.”
According to Lt. Dudley, who has served on the Moore Police force for more than 15 years, the role of the police officer has changed and expanded to accommodate modern needs and new challenges.
“In the times we live in, it seems there are just a little more crazy people out there,” Dudley said.
Dealing with people who have mental illness is just one example where officers’ focus has shifted from enforcement to assistance.
“Before we would arrest them,” Dudley said. “Now we try to get them help.”
The most gratifying part of being an officer for Dudley is being able to give back to the community he lives in.
“I grew up here and have lived here my whole life, and I feel I’m invested in Moore. I want to make it a safe place to raise my kids, and for other people to raise their kids.”
Lewis also stressed safety as a primary goal and function of local government. He said since school shootings have been in the news in recent years, a few officers regularly take shifts at Moore public schools.
“We want them to be safe — and feel safe,” Lewis said. “That’s very important. We don’t want what’s happening in other cities to happen here.”
Based on current national statistics for similarly populated cities, the Moore police force is slightly under-staffed, but it also has less crime, said Dudley.
“Our crime rates are lower than cities our size,” he said. “In Moore we’re able to investigate and try to solve every crime. If you call, it’ll get assigned to an investigator.”
Dudley said officers investigate every report, and investigations are fleshed out by detectives.
“Obviously if we have a homicide and a burglary we’ll investigate the homicide first,” he added.
But they generally have enough boots on the pavement to cover the calls for now.
Most of the crimes committed in Moore relate to property, such as burglary and larceny. Dudley said it’s a sign of the current economy, particularly troubles in the local oil industry.
“People lose jobs and have to find a way to feed their families,” he said. “Unfortunately, sometimes people will resort to stealing as a quick solution.”
Yet the present situation is not as bad as the stories Dudley heard around the station from the last oil bust in the 80s. Then, Dudley said, there were fights breaking out in the streets over a pack of cigarettes.
For anyone interested in becoming a police officer, Dudley said it’s not easy to get the job. He said he had to apply three times before receiving an offer. He encouraged applicants to do a little research before they show up March 5 at the Southmoore High School field house.
Applicants must first pass a physical examination that includes a timed run, push-ups and sit-ups, followed immediately by a written exam that will cover high school level math, reading comprehension, and map-reading skills.
All applicants who pass those two initial tests will receive an application packet to complete and return within two weeks. Those applications are cross-checked for disqualifying factors, and only then will candidates be scheduled for an oral interview with supervising officers.
Success in the oral interview means a more extensive background check that includes interviews with friends, family, neighbors, former employers and other references. This whole process takes several weeks, and sometimes at the end of it there isn’t anyone left to hire.
The last hiring event was in September 2015, and only one out of 144 applicants lasted to the final stage. Ultimately, that lone applicant had to turn down the job because of a family emergency.
Dudley said most of the successful applicants come in with a desire to stay in Moore at least the 20 years to retirement. Many stay longer.
More details about the March 5 event, including physical and age requirements, fees, and officer compensation are available at the City of Moore website, cityofmoore.com/events/moore-police-now-hiring.