When Brownwood police Sgt. Randall Krpoun tested to become a police officer in 1992, he was one of about two dozen applicants competing for a job.

These days, fewer applicants are vying to become law enforcement officers, reflecting state and national trends, police and sheriff’s officials said.

The last two times the Civil Service written test for police applicants was given, each test attracted two applicants, Brownwood Police Chief Virgil Cowin said.

As of Oct. 1, the police department will have four vacancies. Cowin said he doesn’t know of any applicants who have signed up to take the Civil Service test on Oct. 17.

“Of course it’s a concern,” Cowin said.

Brownwood police and sheriff’s deputies have benefitted from recent pay hikes approved by the Brownwood City Council and Brown County Commissioners, but issues of pay, benefits and work schedules are among factors in the nationwide trends, local officials said.

Cowin said he hopes to draw some applicants from a police academy being taught at the Law Enforcement Center. The students are nearly ready to graduate, Cowin said.

Early Police Chief Junior Pinson said his department used to have a waiting list of applicants, and the department tried to hire applicants with three to five years of experience.

“Now we’re hiring them straight out of the academy,” Pinson said.

The Brownwood Police Department’s four vacancies are from:

The recent retirement of Lt. Bill Stirman. The resignation of a patrolman after seven days on the job. Two new positions the City Council funded in this year’s budget, which begins Oct. 1.

Counting the two new positions, the police department has a complement of 38 officers including the police administration, criminal investigation division and school resource officer.

The sheriff’s office has had a patrol vacancy for several weeks, and other vacancies are pending, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said.

In past years, vacancies would attract several applicants, but there has been a single applicant for the current vacancy, Grubbs said.

“I see a trend where people are not as interested in coming in to law enforcement as they used to be,” Grubbs said. “ … I keep thinking it’s going to work itself out, but it’s somewhat of a challenge at this time.”