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Demand for police officers rising in W.Va.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — If the trend continues, police departments across the state may replace their Most Wanted posters with Help Wanted signs.

Locally, two counties are experiencing what police agencies across the nation are experiencing: an unhealthy decline in men and women interested in working in law enforcement.

Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jim Sizemore said low pay and the intense scrutiny law enforcement is now under in an era of cameras phones and a 24/7 news cycle of negative stories of alleged police brutality create a difficult environment for recruiters to make policing an attractive career.

Within the past few weeks, law enforcement received much attention after grand juries did not indict white officers who were accused of using brutality that caused the death of African-American men: first the fatal shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and them the chokehold that reportedly led to the death of Eric Garner in New York City.

Sadly, said law enforcement officials across the state, the public is more likely to hear about an officer shooting an unarmed suspect, than rescuing someone from a deadly situation. The media saturation of alleged police brutality can taint the public’s perception of law enforcement, which can lead to anger and mistrust.

“It doesn’t help that a lot of groups are stirring up hate toward officers,” said Sizemore.

Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner said, “Nobody wants to live under the microscope” as officers must.

Some of the criticism could be legitimate, said Sizemore. “Remember we have to make decisions in a split second that will be analyzed for years to come…

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