A plan to offer $10,000 bonuses to experienced law enforcement officers to come to the Westminster Police Department was approved by the City Council Tuesday night. The vote was 4-0 with Councilmember Margie Rice absent.
“It’s tough to recruit police officers,” said City Manager Eddie Manfro. “It’s tough all up and down the state.”
The WPD, with 11 vacancies among sworn positions and nine among police officers, is seeking to attract experienced personnel. Over the past two years the WPD has added 17 new officers, while 21 have left. Eight have transferred to other Orange County law enforcement agencies, including three each to Seal Beach and Irvine, as well as one each to Garden Grove and Anaheim.
According to a staff report, the WPD’s base salary is the third-lowest in Orange County for entry-level positions. The bonus program would follow a similar program in La Habra.
Under the plan, qualified lateral transfers – those moving from one agency to another – will receive the bonus in two installments of $5000 each. The first payment would be upon hiring and the second after an 18-month probation period.
The cost of the program will come from existing salary savings and not require a new appropriation by the city council.
“There’s no guarantee this will work,” said Manfro. “But I think it’s worth giving it a shot.”
The council also heard reports on the city’s Active Transportation Plan, which will encourage bicycling and walking, and the I-405 (San Diego Freeway) Improvement project.
The next council meeting will be on Oct. 11.