NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — 4th generation Nashvillian and retired Brentwood Police Captain Tommy Campsey fell in love with police work watching his grandfather as a detective with the Metro Nashville Police Department.
“I would sit around Sunday dinner tables after church, and listen to my grandfather tell war stories,” remembers Campsey.
He grew up eventually following suit by donning a police uniform.
“I chose this because it was a calling,” Campsey says.
Does the calling still exist? “You know, that’s, that’s the $24,000 question. This problem is like the layers of an onion,” explains Campsey, “There’s a whole lot of layers to this onion.”
Campsey saw the shift in staffing after serving two decades on the hiring board.
“In my day, when Brentwood had three openings it was nothing for us to have 100 to 125 candidates come test with us,” Campsey recalls. “Nowadays, all of my buddies that are still police chiefs, they can’t get a handful, literally a handful of candidates to come test.”
Life, he says, got more complicated for cops.
“You’ve got social media telling everybody that police are bad. You’ve got our government wanting to defund us. You see active shooters all the time and the justice system that’s broken.” Campsey continues, “Officers are arresting people on a Monday and re-arresting them on a Friday.”
Add to that required overtime and worse, Campsey says, “Canceled days off.”
The demand takes a toll on even the best who choose to leave departments for security positions in the private sector.
“That hurts my heart. If they throw down $100,000 and an officer’s making $45-$50,000, who’s not going to think twice about jumping off?” Campsey says, “And oh, by the way, he’s going to work Monday through Friday, eight to five, no shift work.”
Campsey a diehard University of Tennessee fan has an idea for county officials and police chiefs.
“Let’s think of it as college football. I’m looking for as many five-star recruits as I can. I gotta get them on campus,” he says.
What’s the play?
“It’s not always the dollars. Sometimes it’s stuff like take-home cars, a fuel supplement, a phone supplement, work schedule, maybe they go to four 10-hour days, instead of five, give the officers another day off,” Campsey suggests.
He truly believes there’s still a way to entice those with a servant’s heart.
“In the pit of my stomach,” Campsey says, “I still want to believe that there are good men and women out there that will take that giant step forward and say, ‘I want to preserve our way of life and want to do the job the right way.'”