Police departments across the country are struggling to hire new cops and it’s now forcing cities to get creative. The Phoenix Police Department is looking out of state to fill more than 300 open positions. They’re raising annual salaries, offering hiring bonuses, and turning to social media to help entice newcomers. Everything from politics, to the job market, and overall lack of interest is to blame they say.
PHOENIX, Ariz.– – Police departments across the country are struggling to hire new cops and it’s now forcing some cities to get creative.
The Phoenix Police Department is working non-stop to hire experienced cops and new recruits. It’s raising annual salaries to up to $87,366 and offering hiring bonuses of up to $7,500. It’s also offering incentives for college graduates.
To help fill more than 300 open positions, recruiters are expanding their search across the country, posting ads on Twitter to entice people to leave the snow behind this winter and come work in sunny Phoenix.
The Phoenix Police Department is looking out of state to fill more than 300 open positions (Stephanie Bennett/ Fox News).
“Our data shows that the Midwest states are kind of flirting with our website or clicking on our social media,” said Sergeant Brad Rebic with the Phoenix Police Department’s Employment Services Bureau. “Times are tough, and we’re hoping to go out to the Midwest, and be able to bring back some of those potential new recruits to the department.”
Nationwide, recruiting and retaining officers is reaching crisis levels. Everything from politics to the job market is taking its toll.
Last fiscal year alone, 200 officers left the Phoenix Police Department and only 95 were hired. Since July, 47 have left, and nine have been hired.
“I think there’s several reasons why,” said Rebic. “I think it starts with the pandemic that started in March of 2020, the social injustice movement, the private sector has had a competitive salary and benefits, along with just the lack of disinterest in law enforcement right now.”
The Phoenix Police Department is raising annual salaries, offering hiring bonuses, and turning to social media to help entice newcomers (Stephanie Bennett/ Fox News).
In early November, members from the department will head to Ohio for a two-day recruitment event to administer written tests. If the event is successful they say they could expand to other states.
“Vaccine verification forms had to be in by midnight on Monday,” said Sergeant Randy Huserik with the Seattle Police Department. “Our initial report was, we only had six officers who were slated for separation, based on not having turned in any sort of verification form or request for exemption. I’m now told that, that number is now three….those that are seeking an exemption, be it religious or medical, we have 103 department members and of those 103, 93 are sworn officers who are seeking an exemption for the vaccine mandate.”
The Seattle Police Department had 184 officers separate from the department in 2020 through a mix of retirements, resignations, terminations and deaths. Through September 30th, 2021, 134 officers separated from the department.
So far they have hired or rehired 62 recruits and officers this year, and 51 in 2020.
“Clearly our attrition rate is vastly outnumbering the officers that we’ve hired over the last two years to replace them,” said Huserik.
The department is working with the mayor’s office and City Council to try to offer higher pay and hiring bonuses, but nothing has been approved yet.
However, in Florida, the Orlando Police Department is only looking to fill 42 positions. They say trying to find qualified workers is a bit more challenging, but overall they’re doing okay.
“We’re still receiving anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 applications per year, out of that half of them we afford them the opportunity to continue the process, but then we only pick about 100 to 150 from that group, so as you can see, it’s very selective,” said Chief Orlando Rolón with the Orlando Police Department.
The department says it saw an uptick in early retirements during the pandemic, but those are starting to slow down, too. About 57 people retired last year.
Chief Rolón says his department is very fortunate to have only 42 vacancies, he says “knowing that, out of those 42, 41 of the positions have already sort of been claimed by individuals that are waiting to go through either the Academy or are waiting to come on board so they can start our field training program.”
“Our pay is very competitive, here in the City of Orlando, the state of Florida is very affordable for individuals who are coming from other parts of the country. The way that we do business in Florida, I think is much different than other parts of the country, and that has made it a very attractive place to work for many members of the law enforcement profession. To be honest, I think we are very fortunate to be in the situation that we’re in.”