OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — Police departments around the nation are seeing fewer people take the oath and wear the badge, causing officer shortages not only across the country but right here in the Wiregrass.

“Statewide, usually you used to have anywhere from 17,000 to 18,000 people put in applications,” Ozark Police Department Chief Charles Ward said. “Now, at a given time, you might have just a couple thousand people put in applications, to give you perspective on how it has dwindled down.”

Like many other law enforcement agencies, the Ozark Police Department has seen a shortage of officers for some time now. With the limited staff available, the duties of a police officer can become stressful as the workload increases.

“It could get stressful in a way, as you do more things,” Chief Ward said. “You want to serve everybody, and the stress comes when you can’t meet the challenges of everybody that needs the help.”

Ozark is not the only department that is seeing these issues in the Wiregrass. Dothan Police Department has been short-staffed for a while now, currently having 25 officer positions opened.

Chief Ward says despite the shortage, his staff works hard to serve the people of Ozark in any way they can, and have even seen their productivity increase.

“Regardless of how short we are, we’re going to get the job done,” Chief Ward said. “People step in the gaps. Yes, is it more work on an individual? Yes, it is, but I’ve got a group of people with an attitude to get it done.”

If you would like to apply for an officer position in Ozark you can visit the police station at 275 N Union Ave, Ozark to pick up an application. You can apply for a Dothan Police position on their website.