Texas State Police work to keep up with growing student population
Texas State University police in San Marcos are working to keep up with a growing student population.
Currently, UPD is understaffed by 17.5 percent and are using overtime to fill vacancies around campus.
University Police Chief Jose Banales said his department along with others across the country are having difficulty recruiting. He said the pool of qualified candidates is diminishing and young adults aren't as attracted to a career in law enforcement anymore.
"The private sector now is offering a lot more benefits than public service does so it is challenging and the requirements are so restrictive that not all the young adults will meet those requirements," Banales said.
The police department has seven vacancies, and while it may not seem like a lot – it accounts for nearly a fifth of the force, but Banales said they've been working to augment officer visibility.
"We've incorporated some overtime opportunities to increase foot and bike patrol so that's how we're increasing visibility on campus," Banales said.
Texas State has a growing student population that has reached more than 38,000 this school year. Banales said his department is doing the best they can with the resources they have.
"I like UPD. They're not too aggressive. They're friendly too," said freshman student Tyshane Thomas.
The department's budget allows for 40 sworn officers but as of Wednesday, only 33 of those positions are filled.
"if we have that many kids and that many officers I mean statistically speaking I'd want more officers around," Thomas said.
Banales said that's all about to change. Five new officer candidates have made it through the initial hiring process, but they won't be out on patrol until they undergo three months of training.
"At Texas State we deal with some of the same issues other universities deal with as far as the political environment, our mental health issues, drug and alcohol related incidents and sexual assaults," Banales said.
Some students tell CBS Austin they feel like UPD is able to handle small, every day incidents.
"They are doing their jobs to make sure everyone's safe," said Freshman Gabrielle Griffin.
But there are concerns about what would happen in the event of a large-scale emergency.
"Given our climate right now, the terroristic threats, if something like that happened on our campus – are we prepared to deal with that with our police presence? And the answer is no," said senior student Danielle Griffin.
Chief Banales said his department works closely with the San Marcos Police Department.
"It's very important because as you know we're an open campus so having that availability to call on them to assist us or vice versa," Banales said.
Banales said once the new officer candidates complete their training, there will be two more vacancies to fill for the department to be at full staff. If the chief feels like more officers are needed, he will put in a budget request with the Texas State University President Denise Trauth.