By Carolyn Marnon – Two new police officers for Wayne were sworn in during the online Zoom city council meeting on July 21.
Ryan Caprathe from Farmington Hills has always wanted to be a police officer since a very young age. He enjoys helping people. Being a police officer gives him the opportunity to answer the call to help people on their worst days or on their best days. “I chose Wayne because it is a smaller department. I’ve always liked working with a group of people I can get to know rather than a big station where you don’t know everyone.” It’s important to Officer Caprathe to get to know people personally.
Adrian Ljalevic from Dearborn has always enjoyed helping others; he served as a mentor in high school. He was working in the Dearborn dispatch center when Wayne merged into that center. He found the staff in Wayne were always kind and professional with him. He enjoyed the small tightknit community the department had and was grateful for the sponsorship it provided him to attend the police academy.
Officers Ljalevic and Caprathe recently graduated from the Wayne County Regional Police Academy. They will begin their Field Training Program at the Wayne Police Department soon.
Wayne Police Department has struggled for several years to fill the 26 officer positions the department has been budgeted for. Wayne is not the only city that has had difficulty recruiting law enforcement officers.
According to a 2019 report put out by the Police Executive Research Forum, “The Workforce Crisis, and What Police Agencies are Doing About it,” recruitment challenges are many. The number of people applying for open positions has declined. To find qualified applicants from those fewer applications is a challenge.
Wayne Police Lt. Finley Carter is in charge of recruitment at Wayne PD. He and Police Chief Ryan Strong have been getting themselves and the department out in the community. They have visited every police academy in Michigan’s lower peninsula and appeared at career fairs. They have tried to focus on the local police academies, the closest of which is in Livonia. They’ll take a younger officer with them who is fresh out of the academy to share their real-world experience with the Wayne PD. “The key is just to try to get ourselves out there,” said Chief Strong. “Let people know we treat our employees well. I’ve been coming here for 21 years, and it’s still a great place to work. We treat people with respect.”
Chief Strong has announced that Wayne’s police department now has 24 officers with two more currently attending the police academy. When the two graduate, if all stays the same with current staffing levels, the department will have hit that magic number of 26 they have long strived for.
“I want to welcome Officer Caprathe and Officer Ljalijevic to the City of Wayne. The department has been working hard on recruiting efforts and I am pleased to see the interest in the Wayne Police Department growing. It has always been a priority of mine to increase the number of Police Officers and we are finally moving in the right direction. The safety of this community is a top priority, “said Mayor John Rhaesa. The Mayor also added that this is the highest number of police officers the department has had in nearly a decade.