Raising their pay has not increased the number of Bethel police officers, and no one's sure why.
Bethel city councilman Leif Albertson asked for an update on the force last night because he says he is concerned that, despite raises earlier this year, staffing is still low.
“It seems like when we were having this conversation eight months or a year ago, the message we were getting was ‘we just can’t hire people at these salary levels,'" said Albertson.
Police Chief Andre Achee responded that he wasn’t actually sure why the raises, among other improvements and incentives, hadn’t helped.
“We have a brand new building, great facilities. We have a decent fleet of vehicles. We offer training when we have the manpower to send them to training. Our pay is at a decent standard with the rest of the area, so it’s hard to say specifically why we can’t get recruits out here. Part of it is just the location. People may not like the idea of rural Alaska. We don’t have the amenities of western civilization," said Achee.
The department has been hovering around 50 percent staffing levels for the last several months. The chief says much of the 25 percent pay raise has gone to retaining officers.
Since the pay raise went into effect, Bethel Police have been trying to recruit more police by attending job fairs and posting applications to social media.
Albertson asked what the chief would try next and Achee told him he was hoping to put more emphasis on hiring from the community service patrol and training locally.