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Clovis Looks to $10,000 Bonuses to Recruit New Cops, Matching Fresno Offer

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Update: The Clovis City Council voted unanimously to approve the $10,000 bonuses and cadet trainee positions during their Monday night meeting.

(Original Story Below)

Clovis Police Department officials say they’re having such a hard time finding and hiring qualified officers they want to add signing bonuses to their recruitment strategy.

On Monday, the department is asking the Clovis City Council to approve paying $10,000 hiring incentives to new recruits and officers who transfer to Clovis PD from other agencies.

“We’re starting to have a hard time finding qualified candidates that meet our high expectations,” Clovis Police Lt. Jim Munro tells GVWire.

The bonuses would be paid out over two- or three-years, according to the proposal.

The Fresno Police Department already offers a $10,000 signing bonus, also paid out over time, to help attract their own candidates. But Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi is seeking more.

“I want up to $20,000 and it’ll be staggered,” says Karbassi. He plans on making the proposal during the city’s budget deliberations that begin in earnest next month.

Photo of Mike Karbassi

“I want up to $20,000 and it’ll be staggered.”Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi

A Reuters report last July said a drop in the number of recruits along with an increases in officers heading for retirement have been so dramatic that the Police Education Research Foundation in 2019 dubbed conditions a “workforce crisis.” Applications have plummeted in many police departments in recent years, the PERF study showed, falling 50% in Seattle and as much as 70% in Jefferson County, Colorado. In addition, about 16% of U.S. police officers will reach retirement age in the next five years, according to the study.

However, applications to the Police Academy program offered by Fresno City College appear to be bucking that trend.

“I have a full academy starting June 7th, which I expect to have 50 (students) in it. I had 130 that applied,” says coordinator Timothy Hahn. He says the prospective students that were not accepted can apply again.

Clovis Police Recruitment Push

“We’re starting to have a hard time finding qualified candidates that meet our high expectations.”Clovis police Lt. Jim Munro

Despite the uptick in applications to the academy, Clovis Police Department leaders say applications to their agency are down.

“We’re just trying everything we can to try and get the best people,” explains Munro.  “And so the incentive program, that’s just another tool in our tool bag to try and make that happen.”

The department currently has 98 officers, down from a high of 117 in 2008. Clovis PD is authorized for 103 officers right now, and that number will likely increase to 105 on July 1. The department is expecting to hire up to ten officers between now and June 30, 2022.

“We obviously have some some people to hire,” says Munro. He says one Clovis officer recently leave policing altogether and a few have transferred to other agencies.

Now, for the first time in recent memory, Clovis PD is looking at sponsoring new recruits to attend the police academy. The recruits are paid to attend the academy, and after successful completion of the program, they are hired on as full time police officers.

“It’s all part of basically trying to get people before they get to the academy, before they get recruited by another agency,” Munro says.

Fresno Police Academy

“In my current class, I’ve had over 20 departments coming to recruit from all over the state of California. San Diego, Sacramento Police, Clear Lake Police Department, Sheriff’s departments from up in Northern California like like El Dorado.”– Fresno City College Police Academy coordinator Timothy Hahn

Hahn says if the Fresno City College Police Academy isn’t the largest in the state, it’s definitely in the top three as far as numbers of candidates who graduate from the program. He also adds beyond new recruits, many current officers enroll for additional training.

He says police agencies up and down the state are well aware of the numbers of recruits coming out of the local academy.

“In my current class, I’ve had over 20 departments coming to recruit from all over the state of California. San Diego, Sacramento Police, Clear Lake Police Department, Sheriff’s departments from up in Northern California like like El Dorado,” says Hahn. He says even News Mexico Police have come in to recruit from his class.

From his January class of 35 students, Hahn says 25 have already been hired and another 6 already have job offers.

Hahn said more women a showing interest in policing careers.

“We’re starting to see an increase in women coming into my next upcoming class at the end of May. The module one class, it is 13 men and 10 women coming in to that class,” explains Hahn.

While he says recruits also reflect a diversity of ethnicities, he’s seeing few African American students in the program.