What is the City doing about police vacancies?
Communities across the country are faced with the same
challenge—how to attract and retain the best police officers, among the most
difficult jobs there is. The national vacancy rate for police departments is 13-15%. SCMPD is having an equally difficult time recruiting and retaining high-quality officers.
As of Sept. 11, 2015, SCMPD had 127 vacancies at all ranks. Thirty-one new recruits graduated on Sept. 18 from the three-month Police Academy, and are now in the seven-week patrol school, after which they will hit the streets. Another 37 recruits are scheduled to graduate in December.
Earlier this summer, SCMPD leadership made a
compelling case that the main reason we are having a difficult time attracting
recruits and retaining officers is we didn’t pay as well as many police
departments in the region (see the City Council Workshop where this was discussed
on “Metro Police Mid-Year Update” link). We had launched a robust recruitment campaign that was getting tons of attention, but that attention wasn't resulting in enough applications.
Following a comprehensive study of comparable
communities, and a thorough analysis of positions and rank structure, on August
21, 2015 the City Manager changed the pay scale (retroactive to July 1, 2015)
for SCMPD, which increased the salaries of more than 90 percent of the police
force. We’ve raised the starting pay of certified police officers to $39,230,
giving SCMPD among the highest starting salaries in the region. Recruits with prior
military experience or college degrees will see an even higher starting pay as
an increased incentive to join SCMPD. Click HERE to read
a Memo and Presentation on the SCMPD pay scale changes.
So is the pay scale change having an impact?
During the month of January 2015, SCMPD had 475 "hits" on the recruitment page of its website, which resulted in 20 applications for employment. By comparison, the first few weeks of September 2015 -- after the pay raise went into effect -- the recruitment page received 1,775 "hits," which resulted in 181 applications for employment.
To learn more about SCMPD recruitment, visit www.scmpd.org/joinscmpd