At the June 18, 2024, Sealy City Council meeting, the city’s Chief of Police, Jay Reeves, presented a detailed and urgent report on the ongoing police shortage affecting the community. The chief’s testimony highlighted the challenges faced by the police department, including the loss of experienced officers and the difficulties in recruiting and retaining new personnel.

Training and Certification Challenges

The chief began by explaining the extensive training and certification requirements for police officers in Texas. Upon graduating from the police academy, officers receive a basic police officer license, which must be maintained through continuous training cycles. The chief detailed the rigorous process for obtaining intermediate, advanced, and master certifications, emphasizing the significant investment in time and resources required for each level. Despite these efforts, the department has lost ten officers in the past two years, only one of whom left law enforcement entirely, with the rest moving to other agencies.

Impact of Officer Losses

The chief reported that the department’s current staff includes three basic officers, two intermediate, six advanced, and ten master-certified officers. However, the recent departures have resulted in a significant loss of experience and training hours, leaving the department struggling to maintain its previous level of service. The chief highlighted that the loss of nearly 50% of the staff in two years is unprecedented and has left the department unable to recover the experience and expertise that has been lost.



Financial Constraints and Recruitment Issues

The testimony underscored the financial constraints contributing to the department’s challenges. The chief noted that officers are being recruited by other departments offering higher salaries and better benefits, making it difficult for Sealy to compete. The city has been unable to provide competitive wages or sufficient financial incentives to retain its officers. The chief emphasized that without changes, the department will continue to lose officers, resulting in a force comprised primarily of inexperienced, basic-certified officers.

City Council’s Response and Potential Solutions

The city council acknowledged the severity of the situation, with Mayor Carolyn Bilski and council members discussing various potential solutions. These included exploring grant funding opportunities, revisiting the budget to find additional funds for police salaries, and considering a town hall meeting to gauge public support for a tax increase to fund the police department adequately.

One immediate action approved by the council was the use of remaining budget funds for a one-time emergency retention payment to officers. This measure aims to provide temporary financial relief and retain experienced officers while the city explores longer-term solutions.


The Sealy Police Department’s shortage highlights the broader challenges faced by small-town police forces in maintaining a stable and experienced workforce. The challenges faced by the Sealy Police Department are not unique and reflect broader trends affecting many rural and smaller law enforcement agencies across the country. Similar to Sealy, these departments often struggle to compete with larger urban agencies like Houston, which can offer higher salaries and better benefits due to their larger tax bases and funding capabilities. This disparity often leads to experienced officers being poached by larger departments, exacerbating the turnover and retention issues faced by smaller communities.  The situation in Sealy underscores a systemic issue in law enforcement staffing, where smaller departments with limited financial resources find themselves in constant competition for skilled personnel. As cities and towns grapple with these challenges, they are forced to explore creative solutions such as emergency retention payments and community engagement initiatives to bridge the gap until more sustainable funding options can be implemented.

You can watch the full presentation and discussion starting at the 01:26:13 mark of the video below:



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