It seems police departments all across the country are having trouble recruiting new members and in Arroyo Grande, they’re now incentivizing some of their openings, in hopes of finding both qualified and experienced recruits,
The Arroyo Grande Police Department has several open positions right now, and with long-time employees getting ready to retire, they expect more in the future.
But it’s not easy to find or keep qualified candidates
“We’re always kind of challenged to bring on well-qualified candidates and sometimes, at least right now that pool is pretty small,” said Arroyo Grande Police Commander, Michael Martinez.
The small pool may be due to changing public perceptions.
“From the outside in it might be, I don’t want to be on youtube getting criticized for something, or I don’t want to be that officer that’s put in a position that is going to be second-guessed,” said Arroyo Grande Police Patrol Officer, Bradley Hogan.
The Arroyo Grande Police Department has reported a decline in both recruitment and retention of its officers over the past 5 years.
According to Martinez and officer Hogan, there are a variety of reasons why people are hesitant to join.
“Quite frankly, many people don’t see this job as a noble profession any longer,” said Martinez.
“Why risk it, when there’s other opportunities elsewhere, right now we have an economy that’s really doing well,” said Hogan.
In June, the City of Arroyo Grande, approved a new recruiting program that would help find well-qualified candidates.
Offering lateral officers, those with one year of law enforcement experience and a basic peace officer certificate, up to a ten-thousand-dollar signing incentive and 40 hours of vacation.
And so far, they’ve seen some success, with four new applicants, but Martinez says recruitment will continue to be a work in progress.
“We have to continue to evolve, and we have to always develop strategies on being able to recruit some of the most qualified and best candidates for our communities,” said Martinez.
Hogan says it’s more cost-effective to recruit experienced officers because they don’t need as much training, and
those officers can also bring new ideas from their old departments and don’t pose as much of a risk.
The Arroyo Grande Police Department’s open positions are listed online and expect to have more after this year.