KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Being a police officer has always been considered a dangerous job – but after officers have become targets, across the country and here in the metro, it's a factor some potential new recruits are weighing more heavily than ever.
“It’s something that has been on my mind for a while,” said Josalind Rogers, who has wanted to apply to become a KCK police officer since she turned 18.
Roger’s biggest inspiration is her grandfather, Roger Riley, who spent more than 25 years as a Wyandotte County Sheriff's deputy.
“To me, he was a hero!” she said.
He’s since retired, but Riley’s love for serving and protecting his community has rubbed off on his granddaughter.
“The love that I have for my community,” Rogers said, “it will just shine brighter if I was doing it as a police officer serving my community.”
But recent violence aimed towards officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and twice this year in Rogers' hometown of KCK, has now clouded her mind with doubt.
“It’s like, well, I want to be a police officer,” she said. “Police officers get killed... What will happen to my family if this happens to me?”
KCKPD Captain Robert Angell, a 25-year veteran who serves as commander of the police training academy, admits the recent killings have affected everyone in his department.
“The effect is not that it allows the fear to overcome you,” he said. “It`s more the fact that it makes you a better officer and it makes you more cautious of what`s around you.”
But Capt. Angell said it has not affected recruitment numbers, as applications to KCKPD have remained steady and no one has dropped out of training.
“If they had any doubts that they wanted to be a police officer,” he said, “I believe they would've backed out a long time ago.”
The impact of the recent violence is more visible in Dallas, where job applications to become a police officer have actually tripled –not dropped – in the weeks following the shooting that killed five officers.
The surge comes after Dallas Police Chief David Brown told protesters they should "Get off that protest line and put an application in. We’ll put you in your neighborhood and help you resolve some of those problems.”
Capt. Angell agreed, “People need someone to help them when no one else will. So it’s the fact that police officers are always there. It’s what we do.”
“And someone has to be running in while everyone else in running out. And that’s a trait that I believe in, and it’s a quality that I believe in, and it’s what I’ve lived under the whole time I’ve been an officer.”
As for those like Rogers who are now on the fence about joining the force...
“I would say that it`s good to sit and reflect and think about whether or not this is the right career path for you,” Angell said.
He continued, “The reason to be a policeman is that drive to help people and to be able to accept that bad things are going to happen and you’re going to see bad things, not just to other people, but sometimes to your own [police] family, as well. And you need to reflect on whether or not you’re going to be able to handle that.”
It is advice Rogers is taking to heart.
“[I feel like] God, give me a sign that this is what I should do,” she said. “If it`s not, give me a sign. I talk to God about that because I would need his guidance for that.”
Right now KCK police are working to fill about 30 open positions.