SOUTH BEND, IN – The City Council Attorney indicates of the 261 budgeted officer positions, 245 are filled. That leaves 16 empty officer positions in South Bend.
“It’s not just our department,” says Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Demler. “Nationally, there is a recruiting shortage. So they’re having to get creative.”
The city created a “creative plan” to serve as a financial incentive for men and women to pursue a career in law enforcement in South Bend.
In the plan, qualified individuals can receive up to $750 in a tiered payment system based on the amount of college education one has received. An officer could receive an additional $100 every year after he or she signs a contract with the department. Any active duty officer can also receive $500 for recruiting another officer to South Bend.
“If this is successful, hopefully we can make it a priority and increase it in the next couple years,” says City Council Attorney Kathleen Cekanski-Farrand.
Sgt. Demler says the incentive is a step in the right direction. He says the department doesn’t feel the shortage during day-to-day demands, but more so during busy days.
“A night home-game at Notre Dame was very stressful,” says Sgt. Demler. “It stretched us very thin.”
The city attorney says the idea for South Bend’s “creative plan” came from similar models in Texas and California. When asked if members of the FOP would support such financial incentives, 68% of the members voted yes.
“This is a step in the right direction,” says Sgt. Demler. “A first step. It’s new.”
Current police officers will also be receiving pay increases in 2015. The city attorney believes financial incentives for those within the department will also help with retention rates. First class police officers will receive a 2.2% pay raise in 2015. Lieutenants and sergeants will receive a 3.5% pay increase.
From WSBT TV