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Finance Committee
Meeting Date: 11/08/2022  
FROM: Bill Gallardo

Police Department Recruiting and Hiring Incentives
Authorize hiring incentives for Police Cadet, Police Officer (lateral and entry level), and Public Safety Dispatcher (lateral and entry level) applicants; authorize referral bonuses for employees who recruit successful applicants to the above positions; appropriate $50,000 from the FY 2022-23 Operating Budget to fund incentives for the current fiscal year.
Attracting applicants to law enforcement jobs has become a national issue, even rising to crisis levels in some jurisdictions. Police agencies across the country struggle to hire enough people to address attrition; are have difficulty maintaining staffing levels; and consequently struggle to maintain service levels in their communities. Because of this, the competition to attract new applicants to police agencies has become aggressive. Many police departments have started to offer lucrative hiring incentives to attract candidates to apply at their agencies.

Locally, recruiting new applicants for Police Officer, Public Safety Dispatcher, and Police Cadet positions has also become a serious challenge for the Brea Police Department. In years past, the Police Department received many applicants for these positions, however, over the past couple of years, the number of people who apply for these jobs has dwindled significantly. 

The Police Department seeks to offer a competitive set of hiring incentives to attract more candidates to apply for open positions. The Police Department reviewed hiring incentives across the Southern California region, both in law enforcement and the private sector, and also conducted an internal survey of current Police Department employees to determine the most attractive incentives to offer. Based on research, the Police Department seeks to offer the following monetary and non-monetary hiring incentives.

The Police Department seeks to offer the following monetary hiring bonuses:
  • Lateral Police Officer: $15,000
  • Entry Level Police Officer (recruit, academy graduate, or academy enrollee): $10,000
  • Lateral Public Safety Dispatcher: $7,500
  • Entry Level Public Safety Dispatcher: $5,000
  • Police Cadet: $2,000
Monetary bonuses will be paid incrementally: 25% at the time of hire, 50% at the completion of probation (typically at the end of year one), and 25% at the completion of two years of employment. For example, a lateral Police Officer would receive $3,750 upon hire, $7,500 at the end of their probationary period, and $3,750 at the completion of their second year of employment.

In addition to monetary bonuses, the Police Department seeks to offer applicants a specified amount of leave time in their vacation and/or sick banks. The amount of leave given would be based on leave bank accruals at the applicant's most recent employer at the time of separation and would be capped. The Police Department proposes matching 50% of the applicant's most recent sick bank up to 40 hours and 50% of the applicant's most recent vacation bank up to 40 hours. The Police Department will have the authority to negotiate with an applicant whose most recent employer uses different labels for leave time (PTO, for example) to determine which banks to place alternate leave types. 

The Brea Police Association's MOU with the City of Brea has graduated accrual rates for vacation hour accruals. The accrual rates increase with an employee's tenure. Lateral Police Officers and Lateral Public Safety Dispatchers often come to the Police Department from agencies where they have earned a higher vacation leave accrual rate based on similar graduated accrual rates. When they start with a new employer, this accrual rate often resets to what a new employee's accrual rate would be. In recognition of these applicants' tenure and experience, the Police Department proposes starting Lateral Police Officer and Public Safety Dispatcher applicants at the BPA MOU accrual rates based on their total tenure in the position. For example, a 13-year Lateral Police Officer applicant would start with a vacation accrual rate of 160 hours per year rather than the 80 hours per year rate that a first-year employee would begin with, as prescribed in the MOU.

Finally, it has been the Police Department's experience that employees are often the best recruiters. Police Department employees understand the culture and workplace environment, who might "fit" and who might not, and ultimately benefit from recruiting good co-workers (and seeking to exclude potentially poor co-workers).To encourage this practice, the Police Department proposes rewarding employees with a referral bonus for referring applicants who become successful employees. The referral bonuses will be limited to the five positions listed above. They would equal 10% of the above hiring bonuses ($1,500 for a Lateral Police Officer, $1,000 for Entry Level Police Officer, etc.). The referral bonuses would be paid when the applicant has successfully completed their probationary period. 

The proposed incentives shall be given in conjunction with current foreign language hiring incentives being offered. All final decisions related to hiring incentives, referral incentives, leave banks, and leave accrual rates are at the discretion of the Police Chief.

The Police Department continues to work on other initiatives and incentives to attract potential applicants and retain current employees, such as a Residence Incentive Program (an interest-free loan toward purchasing a residence within the City of Brea), etc. The Police Department will evaluate our recruitment needs and bring forth additional ideas for future consideration.
To fund these incentives, the Police Department proposes allocating $50,000 in FY 2022-23 (current fiscal year), $175,000 in FY 2023-24, and $50,000 in FY 2024-25. The Police Department requests that $50,000 be appropriated from the FY 2022-23 Operating Budget to pay for these initiatives during the current fiscal year. Funding for the following two years will be programmed into the budget using normal budget planning processes. 

In the following year, the Police Department anticipates needing to hire approximately 5-7 Police Officers (combination of lateral and entry level), 1-2 Public Safety Dispatchers, and 5-7 Police Cadets. With the fluid and unpredictable nature of the labor market, the Police Department's needs might increase.

Based on the Police Department's anticipated needs, and if all applicants qualified for all tiers of the hiring bonuses, the maximum expenditure to pay the monetary hiring bonuses would be $134,000  ($105,000 for Police Officers, $15,000 for Dispatchers, and $14,000 for Police Cadets). If all of those postilions were filled (and all bonuses paid) in the current fiscal year, the cost would be $33,500 in FY 2022-23, $67,000 in FY 2023-24, and $33,5000 in FY 2024-25.

If all the newly hired employees came from employee referrals, the referral bonuses would be $13,400 and would be paid in FY 2023-24. The Police Department has added contingency funding if the need arises to hire for more positions than currently anticipated. If the Police Department cannot fill all vacancies, a request will be made that unused funds from each year be carried over to the following fiscal year. There is no immediate fiscal impact related to the adding of leave bank hours nor the increased leave bank accrual rate. 
William Gallardo, City Manager
Prepared by: Lt. Chris Harvey
Concurrence: Adam Hawley, Chief of Police

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