Law enforcement agencies across the state of Oregon are in desperate need of recruits, and there’s a huge demand for police, deputies and 911 operators.

“I love my job. I get up every day looking forward going to work,” said Capt. Mike Hall, who has been a police officer in Forest Grove for 22 years. “I don’t think anyone can go wrong going into this career.”

But apparently not everyone agrees. Hall said the interest in wearing a badge is dwindling.

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“You can’t help but think some of the public perception may turn people off into getting into this career,” he said.

Like many agencies in Oregon, Hall’s department is short.

“We’re recruiting from a much smaller pool than in years past,” he said.

City, county, state, and university law enforcement agencies around Oregon are looking to fill more than 500 vacancies this year, and it’s mostly because officers are retiring.

Baby boomers hired in the 1980s are leaving the ranks fast. The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) said last year 400 Oregonians left law enforcement. Normally, they see about half that.

“We are short right now,” said Hall.

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And that means more work for the rest.

“At any given time of the day we have to have so many officers on the road, and that’s regardless of how many we have staffed,” Hall said.

What’s more, the DPSST expects another 500 officers and deputies to retire this year.

“A lot of things in society right now that may affect our attempts to recruit people,” Hall said.

As for Hall, he isn’t going anywhere – at least not any time soon.

“It’s a fantastic job and a great way to give back to the community,” he said.

Oregon law enforcement agencies are partnering up to create a recruitment website, which shows all the openings.

A law enforcement career fair is also coming up this Friday and Saturday in Salem.

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