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      More hiring expected in the next 5 to 10 years

      It was a full house at the Western Illinois University Grand Ballroom as about 700 students took part in the Law Enforcement Career Fair.

      Kyle Hoekstra said he has always wanted to get into the law enforcement field. Now as the WIU senior begins his search for where he wants to work, he wants to hear what police departments are offering for a starting package.

      "To have a chance to talk to everyone the same day really helps tip the scale when you're trying to make that deciding factor," Hoekstra said.

      About 40 departments were talking with WIU students, discussions about careers and internships. Police departments from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana were on hand to try and land soon to be college grads. Or at least plant a seed for future consideration.

      "Now, with the amount of retirees coming in, they are going to have to do a much more hiring efforts to enhance those employment opportunities so they're there definitely," Ron Durkin. Durkin is the internship coordinator for the WIU Law Enforcement & Justice Administration department said.

      Many of the departments that were at the career fair plan to come back to the WIU campus and conduct specific testing for potential new hires. That way, they can have more in depth contact with the prospective candidate they're considering to hire.

      "Because we've had a lot of employers, if you talk to them today, there are a lot of WIU alumni that have come back here to recruit and we do have a very good reputation, that's why we are able to attract so many different agencies from out of state and the federal government," Marty Kral who is the director of the WIU Career Development Center said.

      Durkin said the starting salary at many departments for first year officers is at least $45,000 to $50,000.