PHOENIX - Police departments across the country are struggling to hire new officers and it’s now forcing some cities, like Phoenix, 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 $87,000 and offering hiring bonuses.
It's also expanding its search across the country, posting ads on social media to fill more than 300 open positions.
"Our data shows that the midwest states are kind of flirting with our website or clicking on our social media," says Sgt. Brad Rebic with the Phoenix Police Department. "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. In less than a year and a half, nearly 250 officers have left the Phoenix Police Department and only about a hundred were replaced.
"I think there are several, several reasons why I think it starts with the pandemic that started in March of '20. 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," Rebic explained.
In Washington, the Seattle Police Department is dealing with all those issues too, as it’s trying to fill more than 200 positions, but the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate is also adding to the problem.
"Vaccine verification forms had to be in by midnight on Monday. 93 are sworn officers who are seeking an exemption for the vaccine mandate," said Sgt. Randy Huserik with the Seattle Police Department.
In Florida, the Orlando Police Department is only looking to fill 42 positions. The department says trying to find qualified workers is a bit more challenging, but overall it's doing OK.
Orlando Chief of Police Orlando Rolón says, "We're still receiving anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 applications per year. Our pay is very competitive here in the city of Orlando, the state of Florida is very affordable. I think we are very fortunate to be in the situation that we're in."
In early November, the Phoenix Police Department will head to Ohio to recruit. If the event is successful, it could expand its search to other states.
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