LFP Officer Spotlight - Meet Locally Raised Officer Jayson Benson
At least 521 U.S. towns and cities with populations of 1,000 to 200,000 have had to disband their police departments between 1972 and 2017, according to a peer-reviewed 2022 paper by Rice University Professor of Economics Richard T. Boylan.
One open position in 2019 might have attracted 35 applicants, whereas these days, it might attract only two or three. The problem is an exodus from law enforcement nationwide. Officer resignations were up 47% compared to 2019 - the year before the pandemic and the George Floyd tragedy, according to a survey of nearly 200 police agencies.
While the author was interviewing LFP Police Chief Harden a while back, it happened to be the last day for one of our detectives, who was relocating to a more rural department with higher pay.
In addition to veteran officers leaving, young people are increasingly unwilling to go through months of training to become police officers, creating a shortage of officers nationwide.
LFP Town Crier is contacting our officers to gain insight and let them know we appreciate them.
What type of work did you do before entering law enforcement?
I was a patrol lieutenant for a private security company.
How long have you been in law enforcement?
7 years as a police explorer and 6 years as a police officer.
What types of hobbies and/or interests do you have?
I love the outdoors, camping, hunting, hiking, fishing, you name it.
LFP is lucky to have you, why did you choose our city to work in?
My grandfather owned a home in Lake Forest Park back in the day. He was and member of the Elks Lodge that was located where the 12 Degrees town houses are located now. I would always go with him and do community events in the city. I was raised in this area, and I am lucky to be able work in this city.
What types of challenges do you face on the job?
The biggest challenge I face daily is not knowing what the day is going to bring me, but that is also one of the best parts of the job. Every day is something different.
Has your job become harder or more challenging over the years?
I would say it has become more challenging over the years. As laws rapidly change overnight, we need to be on top of our game, and be proficient with the laws immediately.
Are there additional resources or training that you wish were available?
Our administration as always pushed for officers to go to training, the struggle is the courses are not always available like they used to be when I first started.
What will it take for you to stay working in LFP?
I grew up in and around Lake Forest Park. I love the city I work for and plan to retire here.
Do you feel valued and respected in LFP?
Yes. As you drive around, so many citizens wave at police cars. It is nice to see.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I would encourage citizens to do ride-alongs with officers. You can ask questions and receive firsthand experience.