BRENTWOOD -- To help overcome an ongoing struggle to recruit and retain seasoned police officers, the Brentwood Police Department is exploring a hiring incentive plan that includes various bonuses and a relocation reimbursement.
The proposed plan has been tentatively supported by city leaders and it will go before the Brentwood City Council on Aug. 12 for final approval.
The plan features a $4,000 hiring bonus for new hires, a $4,000 retention bonus for officers over the first five years, a $3,000 hiring bonus for veterans, and a moving and rental housing reimbursement up to $5,000 for officers who move to Brentwood within six months of starting their new job.
"Attracting and retaining police officer candidates has been difficult over the past few years. We are getting a lot of entry-level applicants. The one area we have been hurting the most in is experienced police officers. We saw a big drop off in those applicants," explained Brentwood Police Chief Mark Evenson.
According to Evenson, attracting quality police officer candidates has been a regional problem due to recent changes in employee benefits packages across many jurisdictions. Recently, the city increased its medical benefit offerings to become more aligned with those offered to public safety workers by other agencies.
"The city of Brentwood prides itself on quality of life for residents. We have no tolerance for crime here," Evenson said. "All of the crime occurring around us is a concern. This is an important time to make good decisions to maintain a high level of livability. Public safety has been a No. 1 priority."
If the hiring incentive plan is approved by the City Council next month, new hires will receive a $4,000 bonus with $2,000 during their field training program and $2,000 after the 18-month probation period. The city formerly had a hiring bonus a handful of years ago, but Evenson said it was eliminated due to budget constraints and a lack of hiring issues back then.
The second element of the plan is a $4,000 retention bonus to attract and retain quality officer candidates. Under the plan, police officers would receive $500 in the second year of working in Brentwood, $750 in the third year, $1,000 in the fourth year and $1,750 in the fifth.
"If you get them to stay past the five-year mark, you will probably keep them," Evenson said. "This is throwing some financial incentives that way to encourage them to stay."
The third hiring bonus is $3,000 for former military who were honorably discharged, Evenson noted. He added that those with a military background make good police officers due to their maturity, discipline, training and ability to work well under pressure.
"The veterans incentive shows good will ... to reach out and help our veterans to get them employed," Evenson said.
The final element of the plan is a moving and rental reimbursement. Brentwood City Councilman Steve Barr said a majority of Brentwood police officers have always lived in the city, but they would like to see even more locate there.
"We have had some retirements and we have had a difficult time finding candidates. We are getting aggressive about it to make sure we get fully staffed," he said. "It has been a priority of the council to create this plan."
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.