Becoming a police officer was a dream for many on the force in East Texas. The job is difficult and officers don't know what type of danger they will face on their next call. But becoming a police officer is more difficult and it's causing some recruiting problems not only in East Texas but all over the state. "It's fairly difficult mainly because we hold some pretty high standards. We have a pretty stringent testing system. Once they go through the civil service testing, then they have to go through physical testing and that's where a lot of them drop off," says Lt. Greg Denman.
A few pass police testing, but most don't and police departments are left with open positions for months. Small East Texas cities have another problem, they lose police officers because of pay. "We lose some people to DPS. We just lost an officer to DPS. He went to the DPS academy. We lost another officer who is going to the Dallas/Forth Worth airport police. He's going up there to that area, he's getting an automatic $20,000 a year raise", says Lt. Denman. A police officer in Lufkin and Nacogdoches makes roughly $30,000 a year when he joins the force. The pay is about the same as the starting salary for a police officer at a Dallas community college. Cities like Highland Park, TX starts it's officers at $39,000 without experience and $41,000 with experience. It takes about 10 years for an East Texas officer to earn this salary.