CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo challenged city manager Peter Zanoni and the city’s crime control board to budget for 25 more police officers in a press conference Wednesday morning.
“Public safety is a top priority for our city and it is a critical mission,” Guajardo said. “We have been in need for quite some time. But, in 2016, chief Markle did the budget workshop for us. His number was well over 100. I wanna say it was 127.”
She said five years ago, the number of officers needed was just fewer than 130. So, a plan was put into place to hire five officers every year, for five years.
Guajardo said the last two years they’ve doubled that number.
The city has 466 officers budgeted, and by the end of 2022, 25 officers will retire.
“Because you have so many that are retiring, and so we have to keep replacing those and then adding because our city is growing,” she said.
KRIS 6 News talked with Corpus Christi Police Chief Mike Markle on Wednesday afternoon about the need to strengthen his force.
“We’re a major city, and our officer per capita rate is extremely low,” he said. “It’s 1.37, 1.4-ish, when it should be closer to 1.8, which should put us around 600 officers.”
He said they want to get closer to two officers per 1,000 citizens.
Guajardo said the ask is proactive, and not because of an increase in crime in the area.
“Our police department does an amazing job, but if we don’t keep the hiring of police officers a priority, we will not end up moving forward or being able to get ahead of attrition and the city growth,” she said.
Zanoni said he’s on-board, and once they figure out the exact numbers, he will make the recommendation during his presentation on the city’s budget in late July.
“It’s one of the most significant adds in probably decades to the police department,” Zanoni said. "We respect the fine men and women that are working every day under the leadership under chief Markle to protect our community.”
Markle said he was thankful to have city leaders that are supportive of his department. But, he said, recruiting has been a challenge.
“With a lot of things that have happened around the nation, it’s not a real desirable profession right now, so we have to work real hard,” he said. “So hiring five over or 10 over — that is a task in itself to appeal to our younger generations to want to become professional police officers and move to Corpus Christi.”
He said 800 people applied to the current police academy which was narrowed down to 27 cadets.
Another academy will start in October 2022.
To apply, click this link. The application deadline for the 82ndpolice academy is July 22.