Bay Area police department offering $75K signing bonus for new hires

It's the highest signing bonus for law enforcement currently being offered in the nation.

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Thursday, January 18, 2024
Bay Area police department offering $75K bonus for new hires
A Bay Area police department is offering a $75,000 signing bonus for new hires - the highest for law enforcement currently being offered in the nation

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- Signing bonuses can play a big part in recruiting - from corporate gigs to professional athletes. And it's being used by local Bay Area law enforcement agencies to attract talent to a profession that is struggling to recruit.

"Ever since we rolled out the hiring incentive, we went from about a 30% deficit to about a 10% deficit in the last 10 months," says Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi.

The incentive that Chief Joshi is talking about is a $75,000 signing bonus - the highest for law enforcement currently being offered in the nation. Joshi says it's helping to attract top talent.

"Men, women, different backgrounds, several different languages. I think we have combined candidates who speak 10 different languages," he says.

MORE: SF police union hopes TV ads will help workforce as it struggles with recruitment

Alameda has a budget for a total of 88 officers. Last year, there were 24 vacancies. Since offering the signing bonus, they've received 400 applicants. And 20 positions have been filled.

Chief Joshi says the city used past salary savings to fund the bonuses. And in the Bay Area where high housing costs can be a deterrent, that extra incentive can help.

"We would like to ideally have our candidates live here in Alameda. So we thought that about $3,000 a month might be a dollar amount that covers someone's living expenses. That $75,000 could essentially cover someone's living expenses for two years. So, that is how we came up with that," explains Chief Joshi.

There are similar efforts to recruit in San Francisco, which currently has its highest number of cadets in training at one time since before the pandemic.

MORE: SF supervisors approve controversial ballot measure to fund hiring of new police officers

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott claims that SFPD salaries are among the highest for new cops in the country. And that they have streamlined the application process.

"Because it is so competitive, a lot of people who are interested in this type of work, they are not going to wait. They are going to go to another department if we don't open our academies up, open our doors. That model, we believe, has helped change the game as well," says Scott.

Over at BART, Interim Deputy Chief Christopher Vogan says they have 31 vacancies out of 242 positions. BART increased base pay by 20%. And for the past year, it has been offering a $15,000 signing bonus for those with previous experience.

"From the time we hire somebody to the time they hit the streets, it's anywhere form 18 months to 2 years. And so it is better for us to have lateral and academy graduates, because we can cut that time in half," says Vogan.

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