A headline from the October 1-2 weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal: “Cities Dangle Bonuses to Fill Police Ranks.”
The ensuing story talked about how the city of Redding, Calif. is offering $40,000 sign-on bonuses to attract new police officers.
From the story: “Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have said they are facing staffing shortages as resignations and retirements rise. The tight labor market is compounding with what police chiefs describe as waning interest from job seekers amid heightened scrutiny of officers’ actions, a less favorable view of the profession by some Americans and a surge in violent crime.”
So The Sheet asked local agencies how much of the story is locally applicable.
The answer: Not really.
Mammoth Police Chief Al Davis says that while signing bonuses historically are not uncommon, that’s not something he needs to use at this time. And he has no vacant patrol positions. “It seems like everyone’s happy. We have a great crew.”
Mono County Sheriff Ingrid Braun says Eastern Sierra agencies benefit from a quality-of-life perspective. “People support the police here,” she says. “And you’d have more calls in one day in L.A. than you’d have in a month here.”
Her biggest issue is not on the patrol side, but on the corrections side. She said short-staffing has prompted Mono County CAO Bob Lawton to classify corrections positions as “hard-to-fill.” What that does is bump new hires to a higher “step” on the salary scale, amounting to a $10,000 premium. Meanwhile, current staffers below that threshold are also bumped to that same level.
Bishop Policer Chief Richard Standridge said that his department was down five positions when he was hired 15 months ago, and that he and City Manager Deston Dishion had “very real” conversations about whether it would be appropriate to offer signing bonuses.
But since that time, BPD has managed to fill four of the positions through a combination of recruitment (Oscar Lopez was working for the hospital in transportation before he was recruited to attend the police academy), internal transfer (BPD sent a dispatcher to the academy) and hires outside the area.
The biggest issue, says Standridge, is lack of/cost of housing.
Even the Chief is still renting.
Standridge describes Bishop as a law enforcement-friendly, vet-friendly community. “We don’t have a lot of major crime so we can focus on quality-of-life issues.”
Inyo County Sheriff Eric Pritchard said his department is down 3-4 positions, but recently recruited two lateral transfers from the City of Ridgecrest Police Dept.
Pritchard says the size of his department in relation to peers, and the variety of opportunity within the department (from Search and Rescue to Boat Patrol to K9), is a selling point.
What he did mention, however, was that there has been some attrition at CHP (California Highway Patrol), so we’ll pursue that for next week.
I ran into Pritchard Wednesday evening at the Inyo County District 1 Supervisor Forum held at Bishop’s Cerro Coso campus.
The candidates are Jeff Gabriel and Trina Orrill.
Both candidates were lackluster at best. My take: That’s Gabriel by nature and Orrill by design.
Was it lackluster or low energy? Hmm. All I know is that Gabriel’s collaboration/cooperation/work with other agencies/sing kumbaya/win-win outcomes spiel was about as exciting as a Kamala Harris public appearance.
For those of you who don’t remember who Kamala Harris is, she is currently employed as vice-president of the United States.
To be fair, the above description could fit a slew of candidates – Gabriel just happened to be sitting there when my head exploded.
As for Orrill, she is busy tacking to the pragmatic center, even though she is a staunch conservative.
And who can blame her?
The primary results in June showed that Orrill and Carl Hoelscher (another conservative candidate) combined for approximately 60% of the District 1 vote. You’d figure Orrill would capture a sizable majority of Hoelscher voters. District demographics are in her favor.
So all she has to do is not come across as a wingnut.
Which she managed to do on Wednesday. She even drafted Gabriel like a racecar driver on one answer and uttered the phrase “cross-boundary collaborative” (whatever the hell that means) without breaking out into hysterical laughter.
All I want is a representative who can think independently and say NO to their friends when necessary and who can focus on managing a large organization versus getting all wrapped up in culture warrior/social agenda bullshit (which Jen Roeser finally seems to have put aside after nearly two years of sowing divisiveness and wasting a lot of people’s time).
But I gotta say … a person runs for office to win. The purpose is not to equivocate and say things which you think sound intelligent.
Anyone attending Wednesday’s forum came away knowing nothing more about either candidate than they did when they arrived.
That’s a win for Orrill.