The exodus of police officers through resignations and early retirements that has followed the George Floyd protests, defund-police movement, and subsequent crime wave have forced law-enforcement departments to offer massive signing bonuses to attract recruits.
In Redding, California, for example, Police Chief Bill Schueller raised signing bonuses last year from $5,000 to $7,500. But this year the offer is $40,000, more than half a year’s starting salary, the Wall Street Journal reported in a story highlighted by Zero Hedge.
Schueller told the Wall Street Journal that after the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, “the negative attention brought to law enforcement really started people thinking that maybe this isn’t the job for me.”
The tight labor market is compounding the problem, the Journal said, amid heightened scrutiny of officers’ actions, a less favorable view of the profession by some Americans, and the surge in violent crime.
In Seattle, where more than 460 officers have left in the past two and a half years, the police department is offering $30,000 bonuses for lateral hires and $7,500 for new recruits.
Ithaca, New York, meanwhile, is offering $20,000 for hires from other agencies.
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said he’s never before seen a time in which police departments had to incentivize hiring with bonuses and pay officers to stay on the force.”
Some agencies have dropped their standards, including Chicago, which no longer requires a college degree for some recruits.
Sgt. Ray Kelly, the spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department in California, said agencies are hiring people they normally would reject.
“We’re scraping the barrel,” he said.