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Hiring incentive proposed for Jefferson City Police Department

by Jeff Haldiman | December 31, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Like most other law enforcement agencies, the Jefferson City Police Department is exploring how to get more police officer and communications operator applicants to the door.

One option is to provide a hiring incentive which was talked about at Thursday's Public Safety Committee meeting and which the committee, made up of many members of the Jefferson City Council, endorsed.

JCPD Capt. Eric Wilde said they are proposing the department use unexpended personnel dollars (salary and benefits) from their approved budget that exists due vacancies for recruiting and retention incentives for prospective applicants.

"Basically, (we would be) reinvesting our salary savings toward recruiting initiatives," Wilde said.

Currently JCPD has 11 officer openings and four communication operator openings. The department is authorized to have 90 police officers and 20 communications operators.

In addition to the vacant officer positions, there are currently five officers in field training and two scheduled to go to the police academy in January. Additionally, Wilde said, they are looking at eight JCPD members retiring in the near future.

A starting police officer salary is $41,975, but with $21,419 in benefits and holiday pay that total goes to $63,395. A starting communications officer salary is $36,260, but add in $17,591 in benefits and holiday pay that total goes to $53,852.

Wilde told the committee each vacant starting officer position translates into $5,282 per officer per month in unexpended funds from the police department's personnel services line in their budget. Each vacant starting communications operator position translates to $4,487 per month.

"Over the past three years, JCPD has averaged $183,336 annually in surplus funding from the personnel services portion of our annual approved budget due to position vacancies," Wilde said.

The JCPD plan is to reinvest unexpended funding from the personnel services line of their budget and apply those funds toward recruitment and retention incentives.

For new officers who already have gone through the Peace Officer Standards Training (POST), the plan would call for a $10,000 hiring incentive with $5,000 of that amount coming after completion of the JCPD field training program and $5,000 upon completion of a 12-month introductory period, which starts at the date of their hire.

For those officers not POST- certified, there would be a $5,000 incentive, with $2,500 coming after they're certified and $2,500 after their 12-month introductory period, which starts after successful completion of the police academy.

The communications operator plan for those with prior experience would provide a $5,000 incentive, with $2,500 coming upon appointment and the other $2,500 coming on completion of a 12-month introductory period. For those with no prior experience, the incentive would be $2,500 with $1,250 upon appointment and the rest upon completion of the 12-month introductory period.

The incentive pay plan would apply to new officers hired between March 1 and Feb. 28, 2023. The period could be extended upon motion of the City Council.

There is also a $500 incentive for employees who refer potential police officers and communications operators, who are ultimately hired.

City Administrator Steve Crowell said this was one of many tools the city is looking to use to increase recruitment of officers and operators. He and City Attorney Ryan Moehlman said the plan wold be presented to the council in a budget amendment.

"We are in a critical situation, and I can't say enough about what the staff has been doing despite all the challenges they've faced with these openings," Police Chief Roger Schroeder said. "We've seen other departments do incentive programs, and we feel this can make a difference for us."

On the same issue, Jefferson City Fire Department Chief Matt Schofield told committee members that 22 people are currently in the JCFD hiring process, but those numbers are "drastically down."

"We used to have 150 people in previous years; we're now hoping to find persons to fill two openings we have out of 22 applicants," Schofield said.

Print Headline: Hiring incentive proposed for JCPD

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