COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Columbus Police Department is about 150 officers short. Hiring has been an issue, but so has retention.
Krissie McFarland is one officer who left the force in January – and came back six weeks ago. McFarland had about four and a half years on the Columbus police force when she quit.
And quitting was not something she wanted to do.
“I did not want to leave at all,” she told WRBL in an exclusive interview. “I absolutely loved this job. So, I was begging and pleading for a different schedule. I had a Monday through Friday. It was 7 to 3:30. I came back from having a baby and my daughter was five months old at the time. And then I got hit with, ‘You know, hey, your schedule is about to change and you’re going to be working from 2 in the afternoon until midnight.’”
That didn’t work for McFarland.
And here’s what happened on Jan. 27th.
“It was my very last day,” McFarland said. “Right after 4 o’clock. I still happened to be there. A lieutenant that I really admire and thinks I am a great officer was like, “Let me see if I can get you a meeting with the man at the top.”
She finally got that meeting – and here’s what she says happened when she got a meeting with then-police Chief Freddie Blackmon.
“At the last minute, I was able to sit down and speak with him,” she said. “And I was met with, ‘Oh, OK. We will let you keep this schedule for now.’ I was like, ‘I have already turned in all my stuff. I have turned in my equipment. My car. I have been trying to sit down and have this conversation for two weeks now. And it was kind of last minute. I spoke with my husband and it was the best decision for me to leave.”
Five months away she realized she missed the job.
“My husband was like you need to go back to work,” McFarland said. “You can’t turn it off. Once you do this job you are in it.”
And her return to the force started with a call from a former supervisor.
“I heard around that time that they were allowing people to come back below the rank of corporal. And they were bringing folks back at the same rank and same pay they left at.”
She decided to come back – and now McFarland is an investigator, working primarily on missing person cases.
McFarland is one of two former employees who have recently been rehired. The department is in the process of rehiring two more.
“I sat down with (Interim) Chief (Stoney) Mathis and I had a long talk with him,” McFarland said. “He has an open-door policy. Before I even resubmitted my application I sat down with him. And I told him what had happened when I left. And I really did not want to leave this job. I truly do feel like this is my calling. I was hoping one day to eventually make investigator. And when I sat down and talked to him, it was like, ‘OK, what hours can you work? Like, what can we do to bring you back?’”