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Matthew Higgins (center) with Mayor Johnny Hammock and City Clerk Barbara Garnett after being introduced as police chief in January of 2017

The state of the department

By Michael Butler

Matthew Higgins now has two and a half years under his belt as police chief in Tallassee. When reflecting on that course of time and the status of his police force, Higgins stated that things are good.

Higgins has a fully-staffed department and cooperative city administration.

"Our department's slated for 21," he said. "Right now being full is exciting because nationwide there is a shortage on officers. It doesn't matter what size your department is and what you're willing to pay.

"In Montgomery, Birmingham or Atlanta - they're short by 50-100 as opposed to one or two. One or two makes a big difference to me. 20 may not to them."

There has been a shift across the board in those entering a career field in law enforcement.

"There's a huge drop," Higgins added. "When I went to be a cop, we tested in the Montgomery Civic Center. There were hundreds of people looking to get 30 slots. Now, you can't get 30 people to come for 100 slots.

"It's a very difficult job. If you don't do anything, you can be wrong, If you do something, you can be wrong. We all grew up playing cops and robbers. You had police cars with your Matchbox cars. It was one of those cool things. I think some of that's changed with kids, the media and things people put out on the social media.

"We've gone through a spell where it's almost a negative context for law enforcement. Some of that is justifiable. You look at any job, there is always some bad people in any job. I think that's a very small amount of people in the law enforcement community."

With those roadblocks these days, Higgins is still optimistic about the future of his profession.

"I hope we get back to the days of people wanting to do it and we're having to turn people away as opposed to go out and recruit to find people."