The city of Camas may soon be offering thousands of dollars in bounties to help attract new police officers.
City officials are considering a staffing proposal that would pay new entry-level officers $10,000 and up to $30,000 in bonuses for side-entry officers from other police departments.
“In recent years, the ability to hire police officers has become more difficult,” Jennifer Gorsuch, director of city administrative services, told Camas City Council members at a July 18 council workshop. “Agencies have started offering hiring bonuses to attract and compete for talented people who are considering the profession, or who are already in it but (who) would like to move to another agency.”
Gorsuch said the bonuses would not be paid all at once, but instead would be awarded over a specific period of time: junior officers, for example, would receive $3,000 on their first paycheck and an additional $7,000 a year. once they have completed their probationary period. . Side officers from different agencies would receive an $8,000 bonus on their first paycheck, four bonuses of $3,500 – after a probationary period and again after two, three and four years of service – and 8,000 additional $ once the officer completes five years with the Camas police. Department.
“The job market is really tough for most positions right now, but especially for police officers,” Gorsuch said. “And hiring bonuses have become quite common, especially in the last year.”
Other police departments, including those in Vancouver and other cities in Clark County, already offer bonuses to help attract new officers, Gorsuch added.
“Other agencies offer bonuses in different ways and in different amounts,” she said. “The only one (apart from Camas) that isn’t is Washougal.”
Gorsuch added that Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey approved of the bonus proposal.
Camas Councilman Don Chaney, who was Camas’s police chief before Lackey, asked Gorsuch if she was concerned that the bonus system would encourage “job hoppers” who would come to Camas for a short period just to collect the bonus money.
“It’s possible, but the odds of it happening aren’t great,” Gorsuch said, commenting that job jumping from one police department to another would result in the loss of the post-internship period and seniority benefits. “I haven’t heard of that around us.”
Gorsuch added that city staff had discussed the bonus proposal with local police union leaders.
“The police (the union) are aware of this and don’t benefit from hiring bonuses,” Gorsuch said, “but think it’s something that could help bring in quality candidates.”
Chaney said he thought the bonus system “made a lot of sense”.
“Lately, the whole nation has been reviewing the quality of the candidate applying for law enforcement jobs,” Chaney said. “As a result, we heard that a good number of police – good officers – were leaving. And I think fewer people want to become police officers. The challenge is this: are you lowering your standards or striving to recruit the quality level of officers we want to patrol our cities? »
Offering a monetary bonus, Chaney said, could help Camas recruit higher quality candidates.
“It’s extremely important that we get the best possible candidates,” Chaney said.
Councilmember Leslie Lewallen agreed with Chaney.
“If the city’s goal is public safety, I’d like to see us take the lead and have the best (candidates) we can have,” Lewallen said.
Gorsuch said staff will draft a formal policy and bring it back to the board later this summer.