California cities have been grappling with a shortage of police officers for years now. To boost recruits, some cities are offering higher pay and attractive bonuses. But those incentives aren’t feasible for every municipality. Some fear cities that can’t afford the same kind of lures will find it even harder to retain and recruit police.
To address its police staffing crisis, San Francisco is offering a $5,000 starting bonus. Starting pay was also raised to $108,000. Richmond will boost police salaries 20% over 26 months. A $10,000 signing bonus has been implemented in El Cerrito. Meanwhile, Alameda is offering an eye-popping $75,000 enlistment bonus for recruits.
The perks have paid off. Alameda had 24 vacancies five months ago. Today, it has 10. But some of those officers were undoubtedly drawn from surrounding departments, shifting the burden to other cities.
“This whole signing bonus started a few years back. It creates police agencies of the haves and the have-nots,” Law Enforcement Action Partnership Executive Director Diane Goldstein told CalMatters.
“It may be a well-intentioned policy, thinking they can attract the best and brightest, but it creates inequities potentially in policing.”
Read more about the incentives cities are offering and their impacts here.