When the Jordan Police Department posted a job opening a decade ago, about 100 people would apply for the position, Police Chief Brett Empey said. The last opening yielded two applicants—and one didn’t even show up for the interview. The other candidate wasn’t recommended for hire.
It’s a reality that law enforcement agencies are facing across the state and country. It’s why the City Council approved a $5,000 sign-on bonus for the city’s latest open position.
Under the incentive, officers would be paid $2,000 after successfully completing full-time officer training and would then be paid $3,000 after completing their probationary period, which is usually about a year.
SIMILAR INCENTIVESIn February, the Scott County Board of Commissioners approved a one-year incentive program that awards up to $2,000 for deputies, correctional officers in the jail or 911 dispatchers who work for two years in the county.
After being hired, a person receives $500, then an additional $500 after working for one year. After two years, they are given $1,000. There is also a referral program in which an employee can refer someone to apply and get a job within those three positions and get the same incentives.
The program is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2021, Scott County Sheriff Luke Hennen said. Since the program has gone into effect, the department has hired 35 people, out of which 10 have left for various reasons.
“We’re finding good people who want to step up and do public service,” Hennen said.
Hennen said that, specifically, the city is having a difficult time finding correctional officers and 911 dispatchers. “Those areas are really hard to hire right now,” he said.
While Hennen said he feels the incentive program has been paying off, it is undetermined whether the funding will continue after a year. “I haven’t heard a thumbs up or thumbs down, but I’m hoping the County Board continues it based on the data we’re seeing,” he said.
NOT ALL FACING
SAME PROBLEMWhile many municipalities are struggling with hiring, which has led to incentive bonuses, Savage City Manager Brad Larson said his city’s department hasn’t had to offer sign-on bonuses, nor does he expect that they would have to in the future.
Larson explained that the department is still getting dozens of people applying for the job openings they have. However, Larson said that police leadership has reminded him that, at one point, they were getting hundreds of applicants.
“They see that drop,” he said.
It was pointed out by Larson that compensation studies don’t include Jordan. “They can’t afford the prices we pay,” he said.